Operation | Cocoon | Bandit | 22nd December 2021 | Virtual Wire
A dacoit, a smuggler, and a poacher who terrorized the states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka for 20 years, the notorious ‘Veerappan’.
Born on January 18, 1952 in the Gopinatham village of Mysore, Karnataka, ‘Koose Muniswamy Veerappan’ had become a sharp shooter by the age of 10 and went on to become a most wanted fugitive having a 5 crore rupees bounty on his head for smuggling about 65 tonnes of sandal wood and 16 crore rupees worth of ivory, poaching over 500 elephants and the murders of nearly 150 people, half whom were the police personnel and forest officials. But this article is not about Veerappan. It is about those brave officers who spent years capturing him and ended his terror.
In year 2001, ‘K. Vijaykumar’ was appointed as the chief of a special task force meant for capturing Veerappan, by the newly elected C.M. ‘Jayalalitha’. K. Vijaykumar moved to Sathyamangalam, Tamil Nadu where the headquarters of the task force is located and vowed to stay there until he does not neutralizes Veerappan. He also specially appointed an officer ‘N. K. Senthamarai Kannan’ in the taskforce and these two officers planted ‘Operation Cocoon’ together.
Instead of forming a battalion, the task force was divided into number of small teams of constables and inspectors. These small teams started patrolling the area on the regular basis, and when Veerappan started getting the frequent intels about these patrols from his informers he mistaken it as a routine. These troops were equipped with the high end gadgets and were trained to fight and recognize the voices in the dark.
Over the time the task force had also created a strong informant network and one of them had infiltrated the Veerappan’s gang. The task force got the information that while dyeing his moustache some drops went into Veerappan’s eyes and he needs an eye surgery. Now this was the time to bait and bring the crocodile out of water, and this is where ‘Operation Cocoon’ came into action.
The plan was to bring Veerappan out of the jungle for his eye surgery and capture him. A special ambulance was arranged for him, and two members of the task force, Inspector ‘Velladurai’ and constable ‘Sarvanan’ were already present in the ambulance as the driver and a helper. The code word for the ambulance was ‘Cocoon’.
On the night of the operation, 12 kms. from Dharmapuri village at a place called Padi, the taskforce had taken its position around a school. The plan was to bring Veerapan in an ambulance and trap him with his gang. The commandos of the taskforce had taken their position on the terrace of the school and aimed AK47s towards the road where the ambulance carrying Veerappan was supposed to stop.
On the decided time the ambulance carrying Veerappan departs from the location and passes from a dhaba which was 10 minutes away from the Papparpatti police station. Here on the dhaba, Officer ‘Kumaresan’ of the taskforce spots the ambulance and notices that the beacon (blue lights above the ambulance) and the fog lights of the ambulance are on. The blue lights signaled that Veerappan and his gang were in the ambulance and fog lights meant that the gang was armed.
Officer Kumaresan passes this information to SP Kannan, who with Commissioner Vijay Kumar and other members of the taskforce is present at the ambush location. Kannan signals the team and everyone takes their position. In about 10 minutes the ambulance reaches the location and Inspector Sarvanan suddenly applies the brakes of the speeding ambulance and he jumps out of the ambulance with Constable Velladurai, and runs towards Commissioner Vijaykumar, shouting- ‘They are inside.
They are inside.’ Vijaykumar pats his back and gives a warning on the speaker to Veerappan and his gang members who are still sitting inside the ambulance and tells them to surrender. After a pause of a few seconds some rounds of AK47 are shot from the ambulance and a shootout starts between the taskforce and the Veerappan gang. After a few minutes the shooting stops and few officers of the taskforce start moving towards the ambulance.
They very carefully open the door of the ambulance and an officer shouts, ‘All clear’. Vijaykumar immediately moves towards the ambulance and for the first time in his life he sees Veerappan in front of him. A bandit, a smuggler who had killed many of his fellow officers was lying dead in front of him. Veerappan and his gang members are immediately taken to the nearest hospital, where they are declared dead.
People started cheering for the taskforce. The taskforce members lifted Commissioner Vijaykumar and SP Kannan on their shoulders and celebrated their victory. The terror of 20 years came to an end in 20 minutes. More than killing Veerappan this operation was important for avenging the police officers, the forest officials and the common people who were killed by this dacoit.