Veerappan Wiki, Age, Death, Wife, Children, Family, Biography & More


Veerappan (1952-2004) was an Indian bandit-turned-domestic terrorist, who set up his base in Sathyamangalam Forest, Tamil Nadu. He was involved in various criminal activities like kidnapping, murder, extortion, sandalwood smuggling, and elephant poaching. He was convicted of killing 184 people out of which 97 were police officials & forest officers and 900 elephants for their ivory. By some people, he was also considered as ‘Robinhood of India.’ [1]The Indian Express In October 2004, a Special Task Force conducted ‘Operation Cocoon’ with the objective of capturing Veerappan. During the operation, on 18 October 2004, he was killed by the STF in Papparapatti, Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu, India, succumbing to injuries caused by ballistic trauma. [2]Hindustan Times


Veerappan was born as Koose Munisamy Veerappan [3]The Times of India on Friday, 18 January 1952 (age 52 years; at the time of death) in Papparapatti, Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu, India. His zodiac sign is Capricorn. He had no formal education. [4]The Times of India [5]India Today

Physical Appearance

Height (approx.): 5′ 7″

Hair Colour: Black

Eye Colour: Dark Brown



Veerappan belonged to a poor Tamil Vanniyar family (backward caste). [6]The Times of India

Parents & Siblings

His father, Koose Muniswamy, was a cattle grazer and poacher. His elder brother, Koosa Matheyan or Madhaiyan, was a criminal, who was arrested in the murder of a forest ranger Chidambaram in 1987. Madhaiyan died of a cardiac arrest in 2022 at Salem Government Hospital, Tamil Nadu. Veerappan’s younger brother, Arjunan, was one of his gang members, and he surrendered to the police in 1987. He had a sister named Mala, who committed suicide as she was depressed by the rumours of her having an affair with the forest officer Srinivas Reddy.

Veerappan's elder brother

Veerappan’s elder brother

Veerappan with his younger brother

Veerappan with his younger brother

Wife & Children

From a tender age, Veerappan made a resolute choice to distance himself from intoxicants and relationships with women, recognizing both as potential hazardous distractions. However, fate had other plans, as he found himself inexplicably drawn to a girl named Muthulakshmi (who joined Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi political party on 31 March 2019). Despite his best efforts, Veerappan couldn’t resist becoming a frequent visitor to her village.

Veerappan with his wife

Veerappan with his wife

Muthulakshmi was quick to observe Veerappan’s regular presence and the striking features he possessed like his bristling moustache, intense gaze, and an air of authority that commanded respect and fear among the villagers which made a profound impression on her. However, Muthulakshmi’s parents were not supportive of her relationship with Veerappan. In fact, her father informed Veerappan that she was already engaged to one of her cousins, but Veerappan was determined and did not give up. Despite the rejection from her father, he eloped with Muthulakshmi, and the two got married in a forest temple in January 1990. After a while, Muthulakshmi got pregnant and lived in the forest for the entire eight months of her pregnancy. However, as her delivery approached, she decided to return to her parents’ house. Fearing possible arrest, her father took her to Chennai, where she surrendered to the police. Muthulakshmi was placed in a women’s hostel, where she eventually gave birth to a baby girl. An STF officer named Sylendra Babu named the child Vidya Rani or Vijayalakshmi (actor & BJP leader; joined in 2020). While she was allowed to go back to her parents’ home in Neruppur, her movements were closely monitored by the authorities. One day, a man pretending to be a relative arrived at Muthulakshmi’s house, but he was, in fact, one of Veerappan’s men. He conveyed Veerappan’s message that she should leave the infant with her parents and return to the jungle because he missed her. However, Muthulakshmi found it extremely difficult to part with her baby. She resisted Veerappan’s command for a couple of months. Eventually, she realised that her child would have a better future in the village than in the forest. In a daring move, one night, she secretly left Neruppur and reunited with Veerappan in the jungle.

Veerappan's wife with Veerappan's photo

Veerappan’s wife with Veerappan’s photo

In 1992, their second daughter Prabha was born. In 1993, he had another baby girl. Reportedly, he did not consider his third daughter’s birth auspicious. In 1992, the STF started invading the jungle where his base was set up. His daughter’s cry became a problem for him as her cry would help the STF to locate his base. He asked the woman (who helped in the delivery of his daughter) in his base to make his daughter drink Erukkampoo, or Calotropis which would choke his daughter to death. The woman followed his instructions and buried her near to the base camp. Later, when the medical examiner searched the base camp, they found the body buried nearby. [7]The News Minute

Veerappan's daughter Vijayalakshmi

Veerappan’s daughter Vijayalakshmi

Veerappan's daughter Prabha

Veerappan’s daughter Prabha


He followed Hinduism. [8]India Today

Beginning of Criminal Activities

Veerappan and Saalvai Gounder

Veerappan was born into a poor family and grew up feeling that there was no justice for the poor. He once had a traumatising experience with the forest official which left a deep-seated feeling of hatred towards all officials in him. Later, he started assisting one of his uncles named Saalvai Gounder, a notorious poacher and sandalwood smuggler. Initially, Veerappan worked as a smuggler dealing in sandalwood and ivory, and he resorted to killing elephants to obtain their tusks.

First Arrest

At the age of 17, he committed his first murder and went on to target those who opposed his illegal actions, often focusing on police officers, forest officials, and informants. Subsequently, Veerappan distanced himself from his uncle and, along with other poachers, was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 elephants over the course of twenty-five years. His first arrest occurred in 1972. In an interview, he shared that people started getting jealous of him and even the hunters were hired by the forest officials to kill him.

Veerappan during one of his interviews

Veerappan during one of his interviews

He said that the district forester had informed the hunters that if they killed him down, the cases against them would be dropped. Rage consumed him, and he vowed to kill those men. He waited for them with his men and shot them down. When they fell, he went near them with his axe and knife and cut their bodies to pieces, packed them into sacks, and threw the sacks in the Cauvery River as food to the fishes. In 1986, he had gone to Bangalore to purchase ammunition, where he was captured by the local police and was handed over to the superintendent of police, Forest Cell, in Mysore. He escaped soon after and a police inquiry indicted senior officials guarding him for taking bribes. Veerappan on his part accuses officials of torturing him in custody and claimed it was God’s grace that freed him. However, the experience in custody seems to have irrevocably changed his attitude towards state authority. In an interview, while talking about his escape, he said,

I rushed back to the jungle. It was a place I had often hunted in. I knew it like the back of my hand. I rushed in, picking up a couple of rocks on the way. Anybody pursues me and I would simply knock the jelly out of his brain. I reached a mountain and then thought, are you chaps going to catch me any more? just see how I settle scores with you. Nightfall came but there was moonlight to guide me. It was a terrible forest, populated by tigers, bears, wild buffaloes and elephants, but I was confident. Dogged by fatigue, hunger, sleep, thorns and leeches I kept on, with only my instincts for my compass and wild berries for food. At last, the meaning of my captivity and my escape dawned on me. It was then that I really understood the oppression of the officials. It was after that my guns, which had been trained on elephants, turned towards the officials. Beware you fellows, here I come, I thought. It gave me great peace.”

The rapid depletion of tuskers in the wild alarmed conservationists, leading to protests. In response, the Karnataka Government increased patrolling in the forests. Additionally, international regulations on the ivory trade prompted India to impose a domestic ban. He had a stock of ivory but couldn’t sell anything. They were in a state of penury, surviving for months on tubers and roots found in the forest. His clothes bore many patches, and he would hide from people’s gaze to hide his poor situation. Despite being wealthy and having helped thousands, he couldn’t bear to show his face as if he were a beggar. This way of life persisted for a year. He pursued elephants with abandon, making huge money in the process and recruiting numerous men for the job. Subsequently, he paid hefty bribes to officials who frequented his place, seeking money and favours. As money poured in, Veerappan amassed significant power. Even politicians sought his favour. However, he displayed no mercy towards those who opposed him. He began stalking his targets with the same cunning and ruthlessness he used to take down elephants. Carefully observing their movements, he devised intricate traps and executed his strikes with brutal precision. Between 1987 and 1989, he killed numerous forest officials and rivals. Throughout his series of murders, he consistently depicted his enemies as oppressors of the poor, while portraying himself as their saviour. However, he strongly believed that politicians should not be supported as their prosperity does little to help ordinary people like him. [9]The Guardian

Murder of Forest Guards

The initial confrontation between Veerappan and the Karnataka police occurred in the Mavukal forest area within the Ponnampet police station limits of Kodagu district on 27 August 1983. During this encounter, which took place while the gang was attempting to trap elephants, a forest guard named K.M. Prithvi lost his life. This marked the first instance of Veerappan attacking police and forest officials. Subsequently, another encounter occurred on 26 August 1986, at Alegowdana Katte within the Gundlupet police station area in Mysore district. In this incident, Veerappan and his associates shot and killed another forest guard named Siddarama Naik.

Murder of Chidambaram

In 1987, Veerappan gained notoriety by kidnapping and murdering Chidambaram, a forest officer from Sathyamangalam Taluka in Tamil Nadu. This act brought his criminal activities into the limelight and caught the attention of the Indian Government. Veerappan abducted Chidambaram’s two relatives, holding them as hostages and demanding a ransom of Rs 1000 crore in cash. Under pressure from his gang, Veerappan initiated negotiations with the then Tamil Nadu STF SP Sanjay Arora. However, he abruptly terminated the talks and went into hiding again. Though Veerappan expressed a willingness to surrender, he insisted on receiving general amnesty as a condition. The hostage situation came to an end when the DSP and his relatives managed to escape during a joint STF operation involving Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. In an interview, while talking about the incident, he said that he asked the people about Chidambaram, and they told him that he was a demon who constantly harmed them. They provided details about Chidambaram’s appearance, saying he more or less resembled a wild buffalo and had a dark complexion. As fate would have it, Chidambaram crossed his path, and he felt that Yama, the god of death, had brought him to face justice for the sins he had committed. He cursed Chidambaram, but he stood unmoved like a log. He delivered a powerful blow to his face, causing him to collapse. He instructed his comrades to kill Chidambaram by crushing him with stones, and they kept on attacking his head and chest. After confirming that Chidambaram was dead, he asked them to stop beating him. Earlier, two other officials who had accompanied Chidambaram faced a similar fate, being beaten by Veerappan’s men with stones. However, surprisingly, he decided to spare their lives. When his men proposed burning Chidambaram and the other two officials with the seized sandalwood, he laughed and rejected the idea, questioning why they would burn them up with sandalwood, as it would supposedly lead them to heaven. [10]The Times of India

Murder of P. Srinivas

In November 1991, Veerappan committed a significant crime by murdering a senior IFS officer named Pandillapalli Srinivas. Notably, Srinivas was the first and only person to successfully arrest Veerappan back in 1986 during the SAARC Summit in Bengaluru. Following the arrest, Veerappan was taken to the Budipadaga Forest Rest House in Chamarajanagar Division for interrogation. The valuable information obtained during this process led Srinivas to conduct numerous raids on the gang’s hideouts across Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.

P. Srinivas

P. Srinivas

However, Veerappan managed to escape custody while Srinivas was away conducting one of his raids. Although it wasn’t Srinivas’s fault, he couldn’t help but feel responsible for the escape. This deep sense of responsibility fueled his unwavering determination to relentlessly pursue Veerappan, even when he had the option of choosing less risky postings elsewhere. In 1987, after being transferred as DCF to Chickmangalur, Srinivas played a crucial role in assisting the local administration in investigating the murder of Chidambaram, the Range Forest Officer in Satyamangalam Range. Srinivas took bold steps to develop a network of informers in Veerappan’s native village, Gopinatham. Tragically, Veerappan responded with ruthless brutality, silencing the informers and displaying their severed heads as a gruesome warning to the village. Additionally, Veerappan further tightened his hold on the area by distributing a portion of his ill-gotten wealth among the villagers. In a turn of events, Srinivas fell victim to Veerappan’s violence and was murdered in November 1991. In recognition of his exceptional bravery and service, the President of India posthumously honoured Srinivas by conferring the Kirti Chakra to his grieving mother in 1992. [11]Rediff

Murder of T Harikrishna

One of the most horrifying attacks by Veerappan took place on 14 August 1992, when Veerappan orchestrated an ambush between Ramapura and Meenyam, resulting in the brutal killing of the then Mysore district Superintendent of Police, T. Harikrishna, sub-inspector Shakeel Ahmed, and four other policemen, Benagonda, C.M. Kalappa, Sundara, and M.P. Appachu.

T. Harikrishna

T. Harikrishna

Shakeel Ahmed

Shakeel Ahmed

In early 1992, the courageous Karnataka superintendent, Harikrishna, received the assignment to apprehend Veerappan. With the efficient assistance of Inspector Shakeel Ahmed, Harikrishna successfully made significant advances in infiltrating Veerappan’s criminal empire, even managing to eliminate one of Veerappan’s key lieutenants in a prior encounter. Just as Harikrishna began to believe that he was tightening the noose around Veerappan, the outlaw struck back with deadly force in the month of August. Veerappan exhibited his unwavering ability to plan meticulously and employ surprise to outmanoeuvre his adversaries. He cunningly lured Harikrishna into a trap by having one of his men pretend to seek a buyer for stolen ivory, with the intention of ensnaring Harikrishna. Harikrishna, posing as a merchant, came in a taxi, hoping to apprehend the gang. However, he made the fatal mistake of driving himself. Veerappan blocked the road that Harikrishna was taking with stones and patiently awaited his arrival. As soon, as he arrived, Veerappan, along with his goons, killed him and other police officers. [12]The Quint

Other Murders

Veerappan showed no hesitation in killing civilians, as evidenced by the murder of a man from his own native village who was simply travelling in a police jeep. His habit of regularly targeting and killing anyone suspected of being a police informer added to the challenge of capturing him. The political instability of the region made it easy for Veerappan to escape from one state to another, while jurisdictional issues among states hindered the efforts of police officers to cross borders and apprehend him. Following a lull in major attacks against the police and Forest Department staff after the second encounter, Veerappan struck again, killing various sub-inspectors like Dinesh, Jagganath, and Ramalingu in an ambush near Hogenakkal on 9 April 1990. In another deadly ambush near Rangaswamy Voddu, between Thalabetta and M.M. Hills Road, on 24 May 1993, the Veerappan gang ruthlessly shot dead six policemen K.M. Uthappa, Prabhakara, Poovaiah, Machaiah, Swamy, and Narasappa. The then STF Commander, Gopal B. Hosur, sustained serious injuries during the encounter, while the police managed to eliminate eight members of the Veerappan gang. [13]The Quint

Palar Blast Case

During the two-decade anti-Veerappan operations, both the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments formed special task forces to apprehend the notorious bandit, Veerappan. This action angered him immensely, leading to a devastating incident known as the “Palar Blast” in 1993. The blast, triggered by landmines laid by Veerappan’s gang, resulted in the loss of 22 lives, making it the deadliest attack during the pursuit of Veerappan. The escalating death toll from the Palar blast compelled the governments to reconstitute the Special Task Force (STF), which eventually weakened the gang’s strength and ultimately led to the death of Veerappan in 2004.

A picture after Palar Blast

A picture after Palar Blast

The events leading to the Palar blast began with the killing of a civilian suspected to be a police informer at Govindapadi in Mettur on 8 April 1993. The gang openly challenged the police to capture Veerappan. In response, a team of 41 policemen and forest staff, led by IPS officer K Gopalakrishnan, set out from their base at Palar in M M Hills, approximately 100 km from Kollegal. Unaware that Veerappan had laid landmines in their path, the team split into two groups and travelled in two vehicles. As the bus carrying the team passed over the landmines near Surakkamaduvu, Simon Madaiah detonated the gelatin sticks, causing a powerful explosion that hurled the bus several feet away, resulting in the death of 22 people. Among the deceased were five policemen from Tamil Nadu, 17 forest officials, and informers. Thirteen other members of the team, including Karnataka police, sustained injuries during the blast. Following the explosion, members of Veerappan’s gang opened fire on the team from a vantage point in the forest. In self-defence and to prevent the outlaws from stealing their weapons and ammunition, the police returned fire. Tamil Nadu IPS officer K. Gopalakrishnan, who was on the footboard of the jeep during the blast, was thrown out and suffered severe injuries to his head and legs. He underwent nine surgeries to recover from his injuries. After 18 months, he returned to duty and later retired as DIG in 2008. Gopalakrishnan provided crucial eyewitness testimony, which played a significant role in prosecuting those responsible for the blast. Veerappan, Muthulakshmi (Veerappan’s wife), Kolathur Mani (a Tamil activist), and reporter S. Sivasubramaniam were among the accused in the case. Muthulakshmi and Kolathur Mani were acquitted, while seven members of Veerappan’s gang were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Later, four of the convicts appealed to the Supreme Court, resulting in their life sentences being changed to the death penalty. The four convicts, Jnanaprakash (Veerappan’s elder brother), Bilavendran, Simon, and Meesekar Madaiah, subsequently filed petitions against the execution of their death sentences at the Karnataka High Court. [14]Deccan Herald

Veerappan's aide in Palar Blast

Veerappan’s aide in Palar Blast

Kidnapped an Actor for Ransome

On 30 July 2000, Veerappan carried out an armed attack on the farmhouse of Kannada film actor Rajkumar in Gajanur, Tamil Nadu, India. At approximately 9:30 pm on that day, Veerappan and a group of 10 or 12 armed men attacked Rajkumar’s farmhouse. Rajkumar had travelled to Gajanur on 27 July 2000, to conduct a housewarming ceremony for his newly constructed house. The attack took place just after Rajkumar had finished dinner, and Veerappan and his gang forcefully entered the farmhouse.

Veerappan with Rajkumar

Veerappan with Rajkumar

According to Parvathamma Rajkumar, the wife of actor Rajkumar, the abduction took place while the family was watching television at their farmhouse in Gajanur, Tamil Nadu. Veerappan entered the house and demanded Rajkumar by saying “We want sir!” in Kannada. They took Rajkumar outside into the pouring rain and then questioned him about the other people present in the house. Based on the information provided, Veerappan returned to the house and also kidnapped Rajkumar’s son-in-law S.A. Govindaraj, another relative named Nagesh, and Nagappa, an assistant film director. Rajkumar remained in captivity for 108 days before being released. During the abduction, the Inspector-General of Police, Tamil Nadu, M. Balachandran, and the Commander of the Special Task Force (STF), Harshavardhan Raju, were attending a meeting in Dimbum, approximately 55 kilometres away from Rajkumar’s farmhouse in Gajanur. They received a tip-off about Veerappan’s possible visit to a Hindu temple in Dimbum and set up a trap to capture him. After spending 108 days in captivity, Rajkumar was finally released by Veerappan on November 15, 2000. The release came at a price, and the payments made for securing Rajkumar’s freedom were as follows:

  • Rs. 5 crore was sent by S.M. Krishna, the then Chief Minister of Karnataka, through his son-in-law V.G. Siddhartha on two occasions, and an additional Rs. 5 crore was sent through DIG Jayaprakash.
  • Rs. 1 crore sent by Parvathamma Rajkumar, wife of Rajkumar, to Chennai and handed over at Karunanidhi’s house.
  • Rs. 2 crore personally handed over by Parvathamma Rajkumar to Bhanu, presumably in her house in Indiranagar, Bangalore.

The kidnapping of Rajkumar further strained the already tense relations between the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, creating a sensitive situation in both regions. According to Rajkumar’s son, Raghavendra Rajkumar, the Special Task Force (STF) responsible for capturing Veerappan had warned his father about the possibility of an abduction a year before it actually happened. However, Rajkumar had dismissed the warnings with humour, joking that if Veerappan kidnapped him, he would get nothing more than “a shirt and a dhoti.” [15]Hindustan Times

Kidnapped a Politician

On 25 August 2002, Veerappan kidnapped H. Nagappa, a former Karnataka minister who had served as the Minister for Agricultural Marketing from 1996 to 1999, from his residence in Kamagere, Chamarajanagar district.

H. Nagappa

H. Nagappa

According to police sources, Veerappan and his associates visited Nagappa’s farmhouse in the late evening. When Nagappa’s gunman noticed people in the backyard, he reacted quickly, locking himself in a room. However, Veerappan and his men managed to break into the house by smashing the window grill. They overpowered the gunman, opened the lock, and took Nagappa, the bodyguard, and another person as hostages. Despite Nagappa’s wife Parimala pleading with Veerappan to release him, her pleas were in vain. Nagappa, who had served as the minister for agricultural marketing in the previous Janata Dal government led by J H Patel, was known to be a fierce rival of Rajugowda, the present MLA from Hanur. Nagappa accused Rajugowda of using Veerappan’s support during elections, with historical accounts of Veerappan canvassing for Rajugowda in the 1980s. Interestingly, Rajugowda, who joined the S M Krishna government, never spoke out against Veerappan, not even during the abduction of Kannada film star Rajkumar. Rajugowda was advocating for the resumption of granite quarrying in the taluk, despite allegations that Veerappan had ties with quarry owners who provided him with explosives. Veerappan was on the run since releasing Rajakumar from captivity. The special task forces of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were intensifying their search for him and even recovered a significant amount of cash, believed to be the ransom paid for Rajakumar’s release. News of Nagappa’s abduction sparked public unrest, leading to an attack on the Hanur police station. Additional forces were deployed from Chamarajanagar to handle the situation. A Tamil Nadu state transport bus was also attacked while heading towards Kollegal, but no casualties were reported. [16]Outlook

Other Criminal Activities

In 1997, Veerappan’s gang kidnapped wildlife photographers Senani and Krupakar. During this incident, Veerappan reportedly killed ‘Baby Veerappan,’ a gang member who aspired to take over Veerappan’s position. The gang also kidnapped and later released other photographers Senani and Krupakar. In another incident, Veerappan’s gang abducted and executed nine forest officials from Karnataka in the Burude forests. In 1998, Veerappan’s gang kidnapped several individuals including Prof. Krishnasamy, A. S. Mani (editor of “Netikan”), Payumpuli (reporter), and Richard Mohan (photographer). However, after a combing operation conducted by the Special Task Force, they were eventually released.

Special Task Force by Two State Governments

In 1992, the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu Governments established a Special Task Force to apprehend Veerappan. Sanjay Arora led the Tamil Nadu team, while Shankar Bidri, along with Walter Devaram, headed the Karnataka team. In February 1992, the Karnataka task force managed to kill Veerappan’s lieutenant Gurunathan, with SI Shakeel Ahmed playing a key role in the capture. Three months later, Veerappan retaliated by attacking the Ramapura police station in Kollegal, resulting in the deaths of several policemen and the seizure of arms and ammunition. In August 1992, Veerappan set a trap for SI Shakeel Ahmed, leading to the officer’s death along with five others. Subsequently, the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu Special Task Forces conducted intensified combing operations along the border areas of the two states and around Gopinatham village, Veerappan’s birthplace. Under the leadership of Sanjay Arora and Shankar Bidari, these operations reduced Veerappan’s gang to only five members.

Veerappan with his goons

Veerappan with his goons

Meetings were held with Gopinatham villagers, and a bounty of Rs 5 crores was announced for information leading to his capture. In 1993, the task force arrested Veerappan’s wife, Muthulakshmi, on charges of aiding him, but she was later acquitted of all charges. In an interview, while talking about the STF, Veerappan said for 15 days, they encircled Bodhimalai and kept saying they would catch Veerappan. All they could do was arrest the trees on Bodhimalai, but he had another problem at hand. If his wife gave birth to a child, he could not bring it up in the forest. The baby would cry, and that would give him away. Therefore, he told her to surrender to the police through a lawyer. She was to tell the police that Veerappan had kidnapped her and then abandoned her. They could take no action against her, and she would be admitted to a hospital. He promised to get back to her after seven or eight months and have her brought to him. If he couldn’t, he would kidnap the wives of some policemen, and they would hastily bring her back to him. Then he would send back their wives. After seven to eight months had elapsed, and they brought her to her parents, she rejoined him. He said that the lack of coordination between the two states was the main issue with the massive combing operations. The policemen involved in the search were not trained in jungle warfare, which posed a significant challenge. Additionally, there was a growing divide between the Forest Department and the police in Karnataka. This division eventually had severe consequences, resulting in the death of P. Srinivas, a deputy conservator of forests, who played a crucial role in hindering Veerappan’s growth. Unlike others, Srinivas approached his work systematically and diligently. In August 1993, the Special Task Force (STF) engaged in a firefight with the Veerappan gang in the Sankaramalai forests near Eshwara, Ganapathi Nandi Bandekallu, resulting in the death of nine of his associates by police gunfire. Subsequent encounters between the police and the Veerappan gang took place at various locations including Garkekindi, Karikallu Gudda, Changadi, Chinnarihalla, Gindikadu, Kurimandhe, and Kumbaragundi, between October 1993 and May 1996, leading to the death of 11 more gang members. In 1997, Veerappan kidnapped nine forest officials at Marapala in the Burude forests of Kollegala taluk and demanded an official apology from the government in exchange for their release. However, after seven weeks in captivity, the hostages were freed without any concessions made to Veerappan’s demands. Throughout the course of their pursuit of Veerappan, Karnataka police filed 62 cases against him and his associates and submitted chargesheets in 60 of those cases. The majority of these cases were registered in Ramapura and M.M. Hills police stations. The STF also managed to seize or destroy five tonnes of explosives and 120 firearms belonging to the gang. The operation against Veerappan began in June 1985 and was led by various senior police officials, including D.N. Munikrishna, P. Kodandaramaiah, K.U. Shetty, T. Madiyal, Shankar Mahadev Bidari, M.K. Srivatsava, Dharam Pal Negi, Harshavardhana Raju, Kempaiah, and Rajveer Prathap Sharma. It was during Bidari’s tenure as the head of the STF from February 1993 to June 1996 that the operations intensified and the Veerappan gang’s strength was reduced to six members. Bidari was the first full-time commander of the STF during this critical phase. [17]India Today

Reward Amount

In 2001, both the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments announced a reward of Rs 2 crore for any information leading to the capture of Veerappan. This reward was later increased to Rs 5 crore in 2003. [18]The Times of India

Robinhood for Some People

Despite committing heinous crimes, some people considered Veerappan a modern-day Robin Hood figure due to certain actions that earned him goodwill among some sections of society. Notably, he established a school and dispensary in his village, undertook the renovation of a temple, and provided monetary assistance to the villagers in exchange for food supplies. In 1991, violent clashes erupted between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka over the sharing of Cauvery River waters. Tamilians residing in border districts of Karnataka faced danger and had to flee their homes. In this scenario, Veerappan gained support from Tamil-dominated villages by providing them protection from violence. He also sought revenge for the atrocities committed by some STF personnel by raiding a police station and brutally killing five sleeping policemen. While the image of Veerappan as a Robin Hood figure was partly attributed to the monetary assistance he offered to villagers, it was also influenced by the contrast with the atrocities committed by certain STF personnel who mistreated the villagers during their search for information. As Veerappan’s interactions with the outside world increased, this narrative of him being a saviour to the villagers gained traction.

Role of Tamil Nadu Retrieval Troops and Tamil Nadu Liberation Army

The Tamil Nadu-based TNRT (Tamil Nadu Retrieval Troops) and the TNLA (Tamil Nadu Liberation Army), which had connections to the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), found refuge in the jungles alongside Veerappan. Although kidnapping for ransom remained his primary motivation, Veerappan exploited the ideological connections with the TNRT and the TNLA to advance political demands. These included seeking justice for Tamil Nadu in the Cauvery water dispute, advocating for Tamil as the medium of instruction, and calling for measures to uplift the poor. Additionally, the release of Tamil extremists imprisoned in India was also demanded. T.S. Mani, an LTTE supporter from Tamil Nadu, played a significant role in linking Veerappan with the Tamil extremists. With sympathies towards the TNRT’s cause and prior acquaintance with Veerappan from their days as poachers, Mr Mani was instrumental in appointing P. Nedumaran, a pro-LTTE leader of the Tamil Nationalist Movement, as the emissary for negotiating Rajkumar’s release. During this period, other pro-LTTE elements from Karnataka also visited Veerappan. After the release of Rajkumar, when Tamil Nadu and Karnataka revived the Special Task Force’s operations against Veerappan, the Tamil extremists withdrew from the forest. Many of them were subsequently apprehended by the police. [19]The Statesman

Veerappan’s Conditions for Surrender

Reportedly, he had offered a deal with ten conditions to the Indian government in the past in exchange for his readiness to surrender. The conditions were as follows:

  • He would surrender only before the President of India while laying down his arms.
  • Immediate police protection must be provided, and an inquiry into police atrocities should be conducted. He claimed that hundreds of women were raped, and several men were unnecessarily killed by the police. He promised to bring forward hundreds of women to stand as witnesses in such an inquiry.
  • The families of men killed by the police should be compensated, and victims of rape by policemen should also receive compensation. The compensation should be substantial, not meagre amounts like Rs 10,000, but over Rs 100,000 since the family members could not survive once the head of the household had died.
  • Due to his traditional hunting family background, he requested three types of gun licenses for himself – one for a revolver, a .375 rifle, and another for a double-barrel gun. He emphasized that the licenses were solely for his protection and swore upon God that he would not use the weapons against people. Additionally, he asked for gambling and hunting licenses to ward off forest officials seeking to harass him when he visited the forest to worship his family deities. He also sought an annual quota of 300 to 400 bullets or cartridges.
  • He demanded Rs 5 billion as compensation for properties seized from his family members and associates by the police, including the destruction of the Perumal temple he constructed. He also wanted restitution for the millions of rupees looted from the temple hundi, the theft of a silver spear, and gold ornaments worth millions of rupees. Additionally, he sought compensation for the destruction of his house, agricultural land, well, and pump set.
  • Veerappan claimed that all pending criminal cases against him were false and demanded clemency in all of them. He further insisted that clemency be extended to hundreds of his men imprisoned in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
  • He requested the immediate removal of police forces deployed in the forest to capture him to avoid unnecessary problems in case of a clash. He pledged that until negotiations were complete, he would not even harm a dog.
  • He demanded the return of six sets of elephant tusks kept for a special religious purpose.
  • Veerappan stated that the Chief Minister should take the initiative to obtain public clemency for him and his men.
  • He brought up the case of his brother Arjunan and his associates Lyandhurai and Rangaswamy, who were forced to consume cyanide by the police while in judicial custody. He asserted that former Chief Minister Jayalalitha and the then Karnataka Chief Minister Deve Gowda were aware of this criminal conspiracy and called for the Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct an inquiry and punish the offending police officers.
  • Veerappan also expressed a desire to produce a biographical film about himself, one that should not be banned even if it depicted politicians, officials, and the police in a derogatory manner. [20]Down To Earth


He died of Ballistic trauma on 18 October 2004 in near Papparappatti, Tamil Nadu under the STF operation ‘Operation Cocoon.’ [21]The Times of India

Operation Cocoon

Operation Cocoon was a major covert operation carried out by the Tamil Nadu Special Task Force (STF) to capture Veerappan. The operation was launched in response to the escalating criminal activities and atrocities committed by Veerappan and his gang, which included several high-profile kidnappings and killings of government officials, police officers, and civilians. The main objective of Operation Cocoon was to track down and neutralise Veerappan, thereby bringing an end to his reign of terror. The operation began with the deployment of hundreds of police personnel including special forces and commandos in the forest areas where Veerappan was known to operate. The STF, along with assistance from the Karnataka Special Task Force (STF), began meticulously gathering intelligence on Veerappan’s movements and activities. One of the key turning points in the operation was the capture of Veerappan’s close associates including his chief lieutenant, Sethukuli Govindan, and another prominent member Captain Mariappan. These captures provided valuable information about Veerappan’s hideouts, supply chains, and support networks. The authorities also used innovative techniques including the use of informants and electronic surveillance, to track Veerappan’s movements and intercept his communication. In 2004, Operation Cocoon took a decisive turn when Veerappan’s wife, Muthulakshmi, and their daughter were captured by the STF. Muthulakshmi played a crucial role in leading the STF to Veerappan’s hideout, as she was aware of his secret locations in the forests. On 18 October 2004, the operation reached its climax when the STF, led by then STF chief K. Vijay Kumar, launched an operation to storm Veerappan’s hideout in Padi forest near Dharmapuri district, Tamil Nadu. A gunbattle ensued, resulting in the death of Veerappan and three of his associates. The operation marked the end of Veerappan’s reign of terror, which had spanned over two decades.

STF assigned for Operation Cocoon

STF assigned for Operation Cocoon

Operation Cocoon was a meticulously planned and executed mission that involved the coordination of various intelligence agencies, police forces, and specialised units. It brought down one of India’s most notorious criminals, ensuring justice for the victims of his crimes and bringing relief to the people of the region who had lived in fear for many years. The success of Operation Cocoon is considered a significant achievement in India’s fight against organized crime and insurgency. The operation that led to Veerappan’s death sparked several controversies. Some alleged that the person killed in the encounter was not Veerappan because he was believed to have a bigger moustache. However, the police confirmed his identity through fingerprints and verified it with his relatives. There were also claims that the gunshots fired during the encounter did not match the version reported by the police involved. Nevertheless, the post-mortem and ballistic expert reports supported the police’s account. Certain media outlets suggested that Veerappan could have been captured alive and that his killing might have been politically motivated. They argued that keeping him alive for trial could have unveiled various truths. However, the police clarified that they had to defend themselves as they were fired upon during the encounter, resulting in injuries to four officers. Human rights activists voiced their protest, contending that Veerappan was not given a fair chance to defend himself. They believed that he should have been given the opportunity to justify his actions properly. After Veerappan’s death, many considered it the downfall of a formidable foe. The news of his demise brought joy to the villagers of Gopinatham, who celebrated the event with firecrackers. However, amid the celebrations, human rights activists associated with the Centre for Protection of Civil Liberties (CPCL) expressed concerns. They argued that the available evidence pointed to the possibility of Veerappan being subjected to police torture before his death, raising suspicions of extrajudicial killing. Following Veerappan’s death, Gopinatham gained prominence as an ecotourism destination, promoted by the Karnataka State Department of Forest and Tourism, with the aim of showcasing the natural beauty of the region. For Veerappan’s final resting place, Moolakkadu near Mettur in Tamil Nadu was chosen, as it held sentimental value for his family, and many of his relatives in Gopinatham had already relocated elsewhere. Initially, the police had planned a cremation, but they ultimately decided on a burial due to objections from Veerappan’s family. The burial ceremony attracted a large gathering, and stringent security measures were put in place to maintain order and safety. [22]The Statesman

In Popular Media

On the life of Veerappan, various TV serials, films, and web series have been released. Some of which include:

  • In 1991, a Kannada film titled ‘Veerappan’ was released on him in which the Indian actor Devaraj potrayed Veerappan.

    Veerappan (1991)

    Veerappan (1991)

  • A Tamil TV series titled ‘Sandhanakaadu’ (2007) was aired on Makkal TV based on the life of Veerappan, which was potrayed by Karate Raja in the TV series.



  • In 2012, another Kannada film ‘Attahasa’ was released on Veerappan in which the Indian actor Kishore portrayed Veerappan. The film was also dubbed in Telugu and Malayalam.



  • In 2016, the Kannada film ‘Killing Veerappan’ was released based on his life and was directed by Ram Gopal Verma. The story revolves around Operation Cocoon. Later, the film was released in Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam language. The Indian actor Sandeep Bharadwaj portrayed Veerappan in the film.

    Killing Veerappan

    Killing Veerappan

  • In the same year, a Hindi film ‘Veerappan’ was directed by Ram Gopal Varma in which Sandeep Bharadwaj played the lead role.

    Veerappan (2016)

    Veerappan (2016)

  • The OTT platform Netflix released the trailer of the documentary ‘The Hunt for Veerappan’ on 27 July 2023. The documentary was streamed on 4 August 2023.

    The Hunt For Veerappan

    The Hunt For Veerappan

  • On 10 February 2017, the Indian author K. Vijay Kumar authored a book on him titled Veerappan- Chasing The Brigand.

    Veerappan- Chasing The Brigand

    Veerappan- Chasing The Brigand


  • Weapon: .303 bolt action police rifle
  • Food: Fried Pork


  • He was known to be religious and highly superstitious, firmly believing that his survival was a result of divine favour. Each morning, after bathing in a stream under the watchful eyes of two guards, he dedicated at least 15 minutes to fervent prayers. Despite his friendly relationships with gang members, he maintained a strict code of conduct, prohibiting any drinking in his presence and ensuring that no harm came to women or innocent people through robbery or killing. However, he showed no hesitation in killing anyone who became a threat, even those who betrayed him to the authorities. [24]India Today
  • Veerappan displayed remarkable leadership in his gang, and his younger brother, Arjunan, served as his most trusted lieutenant. The members of his gang spanned a wide range of ages, from the eldest, around 60, to the youngest, a mere six years old. He introduced the youngest member as his nephew and proudly demonstrated the child’s shooting prowess. The camps where they resided resembled large makeshift villages, housing women and children, but Veerappan adamantly forbade any photography of these areas. His wife, Muthulakshmi, also resided with him but remained mostly out of public view. [25]India Today
  • Known for his talent as a mimic, Veerappan could imitate the chirping of birds and even lure animals by replicating their mating calls. He was an exceptional marksman and diligently trained his gang members to be precise in their shooting. He advised them not to waste bullets by engaging in unnecessary gunfire, emphasising the importance of making every shot count. [26]India Today
  • He used to read magazines and newspapers in his leisure time.

    Veerappan reading a magazine

    Veerappan reading a magazine

  • He was known for his long moustache, and he used to give extra attention to it.

    Veerappan grooming his moustache

    Veerappan grooming his moustache

  • A psychiatrist from Bangalore once conducted a thorough psycho-profile on Veerappan, classifying him as an extremely angry man with uncontrollable aggression towards anything representing society, law, and authority. He was regarded as a criminal who stood in a league of his own. The psychiatrist’s conclusion was that Veerappan would never surrender to the police and would fiercely resist until the very end, ultimately dying in the midst of battle. [28]India Today
  • On 25 April 2013, during the Vanniyar Youth Cultural Festival at Mamallapuram, the Pattali Makkal Katchi and the Vanniyar Sangam presented Veerappan as a youth icon. This action drew condemnation from J. Jayalalithaa, who was the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu at the time.
  • He used to follow a non-vegetarian diet. [29]Rediff
  • The jungle where he made his base camp has been converted into a nature camp.

    Veerappan's base area-turned camp

    Veerappan’s base area turned camp

  • A few of his guns are displayed at Tamil Nadu Police Museum.

    Veerappan's guns at Tamil Nadu Police Museum

    Veerappan’s guns at Tamil Nadu Police Museum

  • His statue is placed at the Wax World Museum at Coonoor Road, National Highway, Ooty, Tamil Nadu.

    Veerappan's statue in Wax World Museum

    Veerappan’s statue in Wax World Museum

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