CHENNAI: Forest brigand Veerappan’s four associates may be hanged within two weeks, Tamil Nadu (TN) police headquarters sources said on Thursday.
Gnanprakasam, Simon, “Meesaikara” Madhaian and Bilavendran were sentenced to death by the Supreme Court in January 2004 for killing of five policemen, 15 police informers and two forest guards in a land mine blast at Palar in Karnataka near Tamil Nadu border on April 9, 1993.
President Pranab Mukherjee has now rejected their pleas for mercy.
Police sources said they have information from Karnataka Police that the four convicts now jailed in Belgaum would be hanged in two weeks.
The rejection of mercy pleas has been conveyed to all four. Veerappan’s widow Muthulakshmi has pleaded that they be spared. Palar was the single highest number of casualties suffered during the two-decade anti-Veerappan operations.
A combined task force of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka police led by IPS officer K. Gopalakrishnan was assigned to seize Veerappan. The team of 41 policemen and informers split into two teams.
As one team reached Surakkamaduvu near Palar, the gang detonated the landmines that flung the vehicle into the air, killing 22 people. Many were blown into pieces. The other police team repulsed the gang’s attempt to steal arms and ammunition and rushed the injured to Mettur.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has cleared a film based on Veerappan’s life for release on condition that a sum of Rs2.5 million must be paid to Muthulakshmi.
The film Vanayuddham (Battle in the forest) was blocked by Madras High Court in September after Muthulakshmi raised objections.
Later producer AMR Ramesh agreed to delete some scenes and the High Court allowed its screening.
Muthulakshmi, however, went in appeal at the Supreme Court.
In addition to the Tamil version, the biopic has been produced in Kannada and Telugu.
Veerappan was killed in a police encounter in 2004 in Tamil Nadu.
For more than two decades, he managed to avoid being arrested by the police forces of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, becoming India’s most-wanted bandit.
In addition to poaching hundreds of elephants and smuggling sandalwood and ivory, he was involved in the killing of more than 150 police and forest officials.