Catching up with veerappan

It would be grossly unfair to blame the TN government and its rational CM for failing to nab Veerappan all these years. I mean, how could any one with some conscience fault them for not nabbing the brigand when they were not looking for him in the first place? You can only find what you are searching for. Elementary. Not that the agile TN cops would have secured Veerappan had they been really hunting for him.

The point we are trying to make is that even such a theoretical possibility never existed in the last few years, particularly ever since the DMK government took over the reins of the State.

Quite understandable, considering that it was the nephew’s son’s Sun TV, in collaboration with a look alike journo, that first presented the world of Veerappan to us, non-brigands, living in concrete jungles and enlightened us all about the enchanting life and styles of one of the most revered and respected killers of our times.

If Veerappan today is a household name and his rugged face with the trade-mark moustache a memorable image, not to speak of his food habits and political views, then the whole credit for spreading that vital knowledge goes to that wonderful convergence of the print with the cables that launched the brigand in the midst of the discerning audiences of this State,nay, the entire nation.

It is a different matter that the same party that rode on the popular appeal of this self-proclaimed Robin Hood and his hooded-lums, and its government today, are now helpless spectators even as Veerappan carries on with his antics, unbeaten. Call it poetic justice, or better still, a script-writer’s justice.

And the channel that featured him no end in the past and now flashes even the birth of a calf as a news break, somehow failed to read any significance or find anything newsworthy in Veerappan’s latest sensational acquisition! The ubiquitous ticker at the bottom of the small screen remained as invisible as, say, actor Rajkumar is now!

It is quite some time-two years, to be precise- since Veerappan figured in these columns which had been his regular habitat besides those forests in distant Sathyamangalam. Frankly, it is with a feeling of pathos that we were sorely missing Veerappan who it appeared, in this period of lull, had quit active poaching and killing, not to mention kidnapping.

We were mistaken and it is now clear as crystal that good old Veerappan has not after all lost his touch and it is now upto us to take the cue and regain our past touch. Not us alone,but in fact, the entire media would have felled more newsprint forests writing about Veerappan’s exploits than Veerappan himself would have to procure the precious sandalwood but then how can the hungering media afford to miss out on all that action that has been taking place in those thickets, brought to us live by our own bretheren?

any case, had not Veerappan endeared himself to the media very admirably by taking the profession of journalism to great heights, or rather, distances, besides offering editordom a new vocation–that of negotiating with bandits. How can one forget Mr.V’s unbridled love and supreme soft-corner for journos, particularly those sporting matching moustaches?

Small wonder, that the two beleagured state governments have promptly zeroed in on eminent emissary-editors to be sent into the jungles instead of despatching the Special Task Force, that is neither special nor has any known tasks, besides being incapable of forcing even a mouse into a trap.

Had some bird predicted yesterday that come Monday, Krishna would be in TN we would have dismissed the suggestion as one emanating from a troubled mind as we are only too familiar with the elusive Krishna. Well, Krishna did turn up here, Krishna the CM of Karnataka and not his namesake river from AP, that we have all been eagerly awaiting with parched throats. And Krishna the CM came calling not with any glad tidings on cauvery either, but to confer with his TN counterpart on how to secure the release of the matinee idol that Veerappan had walked away with in the dead of night.

However unlike on cauvery, the two CMs were in total agreement on the severity of the crisis at hand and its explosive potential, though there was some nitpicking on the jurisdiction, with Krishna, the CM…not the river, claiming that the hijack happened in TN territory and Karunanidhi promptly rationalising that Rajkumar never bothered to alert the TN border police and so had it coming.

It appears that only Veerappan seemed updated on where the ageing hero was put up for the night. And to his credit, it must be conceded that this time he has chosen his target well and it is indeed a master stroke considering the flood of attentionthat is bound to come his way. Though it may appear like glorifying the brigand, that also seems to be the official line. The two CMs displayed no sense of anger and instead it was fear and muted respect that was writ large on their faces.

Of course, neither of them considered it a matter of shame that the brigand had so effortlessly walked away with such a prized VIP hostage and they did not even bother to explain where their long arms of law were fiddling when Veerappan and Co knocked on the doors of that lonely farmhouse.

Funnier still was Karunanidhi’s expression of hope -or was it an appeal?- that Veerappan, in the larger interest of the State and in deference to the wishes of the people would forthwith release Rajkumar, ship shape, as if he were addressing a Red Cross delegation.

Well, the CM must surely be at his rational best to expect the milk of kindness to flow from a wolf’s udder or probably he knows his clout with the brigand only too well. Krishna, however, did not exhibit any such pretensions and made it plain that he was at the mercy of Karunanidhi…and of course, Veerappan. And so, till the brigand condescends to bestow his gracious magnanimity on his hapless guests, the familar, sordid drama will unfold all over again albeit after a brief respite.

Audio cassettes listing the brigands demands would suddenly pop up from nowhere in government secretariats, the CMs would spend their valuable time listening to Their Master’s Voice eagerly for some sign of mercy, eminent editors would happily trek it up into the thickets armed with video cameras to record the event for posterity and some prosperity too, while the STF maintained its eternal vigil on the bordering fields to keep errant crows, sparrows and stray dogs at bay and the media would go to town and even to the jungles to update the world at large on the latest plans of brigands-at-large.

No problems, so long as this drama too ends like the previous episodes with BrigV letting off his captives, unharmed, with our without ransom–the last part is something that one would never know. It is our fond hope that the triumph of good over evil does not remain confined to the realms of filmy fantasy. That would be a sad negation of Hero Raj Kumar.

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Jawahar T R