The Case Analysis of Veerappan along with Schools of Criminology

Fatal mistakes that led to Veerappan's doom

Koose Munisamy Veerappan, popularly known as “Moustache-Man Veerappan“, is known for kidnapping politicians, sandalwood smuggling, poaching, and banditry. He was an Indian Bandit later, became a terrorist, and remained active for 36 years. Due to his criminal acts, he was charged with sandalwood smuggling and poaching of elephants in the forests and scrub lands of Tamil Nadu.

He was one of the most wanted for killing approx. One hundred eighty-four people in, half of whom were police officers and forest officials. He was also wanted for poaching more than 2000 elephants and smuggling 1.5 plus million and about fifty plus tons of sandalwood worth approx. 16 million. (100 crores plus). The Hunt to capture Veerappan cost the Governments of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka around 100 crores. His exact date of birth is not available but was around the age of 52 years when he was killed.

The Rise of Crimes:

Veerappan started his criminal career by working as an assistant with his uncle, Saalvai Gounder, popularly known as “Sevi Gounder,” a local sandalwood smuggler and poacher. After the retirement of Sevi, Veerappan successfully led the gang. In the earlier stages, there were around 150 men in his gang.

Their primary focus was on poaching elephants for their ivory tusks. Later, India banned the ivory trade, and the less risky and more easy sandalwood tempted him to start a new criminal activity. Over a few years involved in this stage, earning over 100 crores, his area of operation was located in the junction of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala’s border.

He was overlooked until, in 1987, he kidnapped and murdered a Taluka Forest officer named Sathyamangalam from Tamil Nadu, capturing the attention of the Indian Government for his activities. He further drew the attention by murdering a senior IFS officer and later included an IPS officer in a police party. [1]

The Hunt for Veerappan:

There are around 176 police cases, 106 in Tamil Nadu and 70 in Karnataka. According to the records, he killed 120 people over three decades. Veerappan was not opposed to killing the common public but regularly killed anyone suspected of being a police informer. He killed a man from his native village for traveling in a police jeep. He could easily escape from one state to another with his political influence.

The State jurisdiction problems were also one of the problems that prevented the police officials from entering other states and capturing him. He was an enigma until Sivasubramanian of Nakeeran Magazine obtained an exclusive interview in 1993.

Only once in his life, Veerappan was imprisoned by the Karnataka Police Department in Mysore Jail in 1986. He remained an unstoppable thug due to his survival tactics in the jungle, perfect information network and support from the villagers, and political influences, which led to a lack of coordination between the police forces of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. [2]

Highlight Timeline of his Activities:

Year Veerappan’s Activities
1962 This year marked Veerappan’s first crime. He was just 12 years old when he shot dead a tusker with the help of his uncle Sevi Gounder. He nabbed three forest officials and killed them.
1970 Joined a gang of poachers.
1990 He killed three police SI and a Police Constable in Hogenakal. Shot and beheaded the Karnataka’s Deputy Conservator of forests, Srinivas, as revenge for Veerappan’s sister Mala’s suicide.
1992 He attacked a Police Station in Ramapura and resulted killing five policemen, injuring two for stealing Arms and Ammunition. The Special Task Force, killed two members in gang during this operation.
1993 On this day, Veerappan and his gang had a close encounter and missed by fluke by the police team headed by Gopalakrishnan who was known as “Rambo”.
1993 In this year, a special mission by the Border Security force was sent to hunt Veerappan but founded out that language was the main issue for leading a successful operation. In result, veerappan killed about 20 officers of BSF.
1993 He trapped a Bus in Tamil Nadu and blew it up. The bus was carrying police officers, forest officials and public, using a landmine, which killed 22 civilians and police in Palar Blast incident.
1993 He killed 6 policemen of Special Task Force’s Commander Gopal Hosur’s party and injured the police commander at M. M. Hills, Karnataka. The Government of Tamil Nadu deployed Border Security Force (BSF) for Joint operations. During this operation, BSF and STF arrested 9 members from gang and killed 6 members. Three policemen were also killed. Veerappan requested amnesty. Victim’s relatives opposed any type of government negotiations.
1996 He killed a police informer and another 19 police officers. He wounded a police officer named Tamilselvan along with killing a constable as revenge for the suicide of his brother Arjunan in police custody.
1997 Veerappan’s Gang, kidnapped two wildlife photographers named senani and krupakar for capturing their presence and later they were released. He also killed ‘Baby Veerappan’, a gang member, who had visions of succeeding Veerappan.
2000 He kidnapped popular Kannada film actor Dr. Rajkumara and released him after 108 days (Ransome case).
2002 This year is known for his popular kidnapping act. He Kidnapped and allegedly killed former Karnataka minister H. Nagappa.
2004 In this year, he was killed by the Tamil Nadu Special Task Force (TNSTF) members at a checkpoint, while he was travelling in an ambulance driven by a disguised policeman.[3]

Analysis by relating with Criminal Theories:Veerappan’s criminal activities can be very well connected through several theories. One of the theories, which his closely related is the “Routine Activity Theory”.

  1. A Suitable Target
  2. Motivated Offender
  3. Lack of Capable Guardians

These three fundamental elements should be present to relate Veerappan’s criminal acts with the Routine Activity Theory.Suitable Target:In Veerappan’s case, the correct targets were the valuable resources he aimed to steal, such as sandalwood blocks and the ivory tusks of elephants, including kidnapping or killing police officers or forest officials. The targets were either valuable to him for the monetary profits (by smuggling sandalwood blocks) or to escape being captured (kidnapping & killing the officers).

Motivated Offender: He was a highly motivated offender. He had a lengthy criminal career that lasted over a few decades and was driven by various motivations such as Financial Gains (smuggling and ivory poaching), Notoriety, and Power (he was standing against law enforcement, and he couldn’t be spotted or captured by anyone because of his powers), Retaliation and Revenge (where mostly he killed people who were police informants or his enemies for his revenge) and his expertise in survival skills (He had a deep knowledge of jungles and can survive the wild nature). These were all the reasons he used as an advantage to escape from law enforcement authorities and continue executing his criminal operations.

Lack of Capable Guardians: In many instances, he could operate without severe consequences due to a lack of capable guardians in his work areas. He had support from his natives in villages, political influences, which helped him escape from one state to another, and the survival skills in the jungle. There were also specific jurisdictional issues between the special police forces of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, which made it more difficult to capture him.

Relation with other Theories: Veerappan’s criminal activities can also be related to other theories such as “Social Learning Theory” (where his uncle’s activities influenced him) and the “Strain Theory” (considering the economic and social factors such as lack of opportunities, poverty, limited access to education, lack of essential social necessities like healthcare, education, and sanitation, easy influence of criminal networks through his uncle, situation of social isolation, and psychological factors).

However, the Routine Activity theory is related to identifying his suitable target motivation factors to commit criminal activities and taking advantage of the lack of capable guardians to escape being captured for an extended period.

Conclusion: The Rise and Fall of Veerappan makes us realize the influential factors that drove him to commit serious criminal activities. Addressing the root causes of criminal behaviour, i.e., the “economic and social factors,” as related to the Strain theory, our society can work towards reducing the possibility of a person like Veerappan emerging in future. It’s a long process where government agencies and civil societies to break the cycle of crime to ensure a safe and more equitable society.

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