Veerappan: India's Most Wanted Man

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Overview

Veerappan: poacher, smuggler, killer — a fugitive who for more than three decades has sustained a crime frenzy as action packed and outlandish as anything Hollywood (or even Bollywood) could conjure.

Determined to escape the crushing poverty of his childhood village, Veerappan was lured to a life of crime in his adolescence and eventually amassed a gang with as many as 150 members. He has kidnapped wealthy men, poached precious resources, and viciously ambushed police, killing ...

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New York 2001 Hard Cover First U. S. Edition (stated) New in New jacket 8vo-over 7?"-9?" tall. FIRST PRINTING of the First U. S. Edition (stated). The biography of Veerappan, a ... notorious modern criminal in India who has eluded police and government forces there for over three decades, hiding out in the jungle in between leading his gang to wild feats of smuggling, killing, poaching, kidnapping, robbery, etc., becoming a national hero or anti-hero to millions of Indians whilst driving investigatory authorities to great frustration. Has much information on his life and background, his wife's travails, the attitudes of authorities, much more. Hardcover with dust jacket, contains illustrations, glossary, 284pp. A very nice copy, the jacket neatly encased in an acid-free archival plastic protector. Rare. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Veerappan: poacher, smuggler, killer — a fugitive who for more than three decades has sustained a crime frenzy as action packed and outlandish as anything Hollywood (or even Bollywood) could conjure.

Determined to escape the crushing poverty of his childhood village, Veerappan was lured to a life of crime in his adolescence and eventually amassed a gang with as many as 150 members. He has kidnapped wealthy men, poached precious resources, and viciously ambushed police, killing more than a hundred. He stole such great quantities of explosives from nearby granite operations that the government ordered the industry to shut down. Yet to this day he has eluded capture, despite the government's creation of a special task force, the sole purpose of which is to stop him.

The impenetrable Indian jungle provides him with shelter and refuge, while villagers, whether from fear or admiration, protect him from the police, so that year after year he has grown bolder and more power hungry. His most audacious act to date — the kidnapping of India's biggest film star — caused nationwide public upheaval and brought the film industry to a halt, while his demands for ransom presented the government with a crippling legal dilemma.

Investigative journalist Sunaad Raghuram's meticulously researched report follows Veerappan's violent progression from a small-time poacher to the bloodthirsty criminal who has flouted the entire Indian police force and government for decades. Using the personal testimony of Veerappan's family members and closest associates, Raghuram recounts this outlaw's crimes and examines his personal life as well, including a surprisingly touching first person account of what Veerappan's wife has endured. Veerappan: India's Most Wanted Man details the methods and madness of a man alternately hailed as a messiah and condemned as a murderer.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Journalist Raghuram conveys the complexities of rural Indian society in his debut, a sprawling tale of the country' s notorious bandit king, with a bounty of four million rupees on his head. Born in 1952 in the poverty-stricken region of Karnataka, Veerappan turned to crime as a teenager and rapidly established himself as a ruthless gangster and smuggler of ivory and sandalwood. In a vicious battle of wills with police, the bandit constructed sophisticated lethal ambushes, while the police tortured and summarily executed Veerappan' s henchmen and even detained his wife. Veerappan then escalated the war, abandoning poaching for ransom kidnapping. Beginning with forest rangers, Veerappan progressed to more prominent victims, culminating in his 2000 snatch of the revered, aging film actor Rajkumar in return for whom he made surprisingly political demands, becoming suddenly the political messiah of the Tamil masses, which resulted in legal and political upheaval. Veerappan' s saga strikingly resembles those of other gangsters, from Al Capone to the Chinese Triads, as in Veerappan' s largesse toward impoverished locals in exchange for covert support. Raghuram' s elaborately detailed account becomes somewhat overwhelming with its large cast of cops, gangsters, family members and luckless bystanders and numerous violent encounters, schemes and wilderness treks. Still, it' s never dull, and it conveys an important story of contemporary India with descriptive flavor and attention to such social ambiguities as the hatred of police and admiration of the bandits. (Sept. 17) Forecast: This has rewarding potboiler qualities for the true-crime fan, and should appeal to readers with an interest in Indian affairs. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Over the past three decades, Koose Muniswamy Veerappan and his criminal gang have committed murder, extortion, dacoity, and kidnapping in the southern Indian states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Associated with 119 murders, whose victims include 32 Indian police, Veerappan pops into civilization to kill, rob, or kidnap and then disappears into mountainous forest hideaways. In recent years, he has released a series of audio- and videotapes that seek to portray him as a messiah or cult figure. Raghuram, an investigative journalist, succeeds in describing Veerappan in pathological rather than heroic terms, though his descriptions of police attempts to outwit and capture Veerappan do have the qualities of an action adventure movie. The narrative also reveals police arrogance and bungling, peasant apathy, and the abuse of political and judicial power. To date, this remains an unfinished tale as Veerappan continues his bizarre life of crime. Recommended for public libraries. John F. Riddick, Central Michigan Univ. Lib., Mt. Pleasant Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Indian journalist Raghuram takes readers into the jungle on the trail of a homegrown villain—or hero, depending on your point of view. At 54, Koose Muniswamy Veerappan boasts responsibility for a staggering array of crimes, from the simply antisocial to the truly violent. He has illegally logged sandalwood and poached elephants; committed armed robberies and kidnappings; and he has murdered at least 119 individuals, including 10 forest rangers and 32 police officers, in two Indian states. For all that, writes Raghuram, Veerappan has yet to be brought to justice. He is well sheltered, it seems, by both the rainforests of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and by the local people; every time the SWAT team gets close, cops die in a hail of bullets and bombs. His elusiveness applies to journalists as well: Veerappan has rarely made himself available to reporters, although Raghuram draws on the work of two who managed to interview the arch-criminal in the mid-’80s. (They revealed that the local government went after Veerappan only when he stopped bribing officials.) Raghuram does plenty of on-the-ground reporting himself, traveling into the forest to talk with locals who view Veerappan as either a blessing or a curse. The bandit leader revealed himself to be something of both when, in July 2000, he kidnapped "Kannada cinema’s greatest icon," the actor Rajkumar, who had recently played a cop intent on eradicating the drug trade. Instead of seeking loot for himself, Veerappan made ten demands of a clearly political nature, including the release of impounded water to Tamil villagers and the payment of millions of rupees to the families of those raped, beaten, or murdered by police agents trying to smokeVeerappan out of hiding. So perhaps the outlaw is more Pretty Boy Floyd than Charlie Manson. Or perhaps not. Complicated, not always easy to follow, but a satisfying cross-cultural excursion for true-crime buffs.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780066210636
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST US
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Sunaad Raghuram was born in Mysore, India. He has written extensively for the Indian Express, Times of India, Deccan Herald, and Bangalore Eveninger and for Zeenext.com. He lives in Mysore with his wife and daughter.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

History of Mayhem

Nearly seven thousand square miles of lush and almost impenetrable jungle covers the districts of Chamarajanagar and Mysore in the state of Karnataka on one side and the districts of Nilgiris, Dharmapuri, Erode, and Salem in the state of Tamil Nadu on the other. The jungle is an integral part of the Western Ghats, one of the hot spots of biodiversity in the world.

The terrain for the most part is undulating, with a seemingly endless succession of high mountains that stretch from north to south. Denkanikota, Pennagaram, Baragur, Guttielathur, Talamalai, and the eastern slopes of the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu, and Biligirirangana Betta, Edayarahalli, Mahadeshwara Malai, Chikkailur, Hanur, Dhangur, Kowdalli, and Doddasampige in Karnataka form one the largest chunks of thick, unbroken forest in the Indian subcontinent, and they teem with a rich variety of wildlife. The jagged hills, the deep gorges, the vast valleys, and the thick undergrowth combine to make it an area that is not just inhospitable but almost inaccessible.

It is a forbidding place for the unsuspecting. Hundreds of animals roam the mostly dry deciduous forests of teak, rosewood, sandal, mathi, and honne trees, and at night the sounds they make can chill the heart of those uninitiated in the ways of the jungle. There is the distant plaintive call of a fawn being grabbed by a hungry tiger; the shrill trumpeting of an elephant herd near a water hole; the guttural sawing of a panther from atop a tree; the grunting of a wild boar digging for roots in the dark; the rustle of leaves as a gaur moves into a clearing. For a human being, negotiatingthis undergrowth can be exhausting; sometimes, chopping through the lantana bushes and other vegetation with a machete is the only way to fight through.

Gopinatham, a tiny hamlet of about a hundred dwellings which takes its name from Lord Krishna, nestles inconspicuously amid this rugged expanse. It's a stone's throw away from MM Hills, about sixty miles from the dusty little town of Kollegala, and home predominantly to a community known as the Padiacchi Gounder. Basically cattle grazers, the Gounders eke out a livelihood by herding cattle and trading milk as well as meat. Some of them have small landholdings on which they grow millet and corn, the yield from which is directly proportional to the largesse of the rain gods, who invariably play truant, especially at the time of sowing. The forests around have also been home for centuries to scheduled tribes like the Soliga, Irula, Betta Kuruba, Jenu Kuruba, and Mullu Kuruba. Members of these communities subsist on the collection and sale of minor forest produce like fruit, honey, tamarind, bamboo shoots, and a variety of berries and nuts. The tribes have been given special permission to use the resources of the forest because this has been their only source of livelihood for generations. Hunting is strictly forbidden in the reserved forest territory.

Also found in the area are communities identified as "backward" castes, such as the Tambadi Lingayat, Vokkaliga Gounder, Malaivellala Gounder, Kuruba, Parivara, Shetti, Lambani, and Golla. These communities are for the most part homogeneous, culturally and linguistically, and are found on both sides of the border. The language spoken is predominantly Kannada, and the tribals speak a dialect of the language. The Padiacchi and the Malaivellala Gounders, though, trace their ancestry to Tamil Nadu and are conversant only in Tamil.

Approximately sixty years ago, in the 1930s, a man named Muniya Gounder migrated to Gopinatham from his village of Kothanagere, in the Mettur taluk of Salem district in Tamil Nadu. His ancestral land was submerged after a dam was built across the Cauvery River, close to Mettur. Forced to vacate the place of his forefathers, Muniya Gounder began to look for another home, and eventually decided that Gopinatham would be an ideal place. So he found a small piece of land to till and some cattle to graze, and moved in.

Like most interior villages in India, Gopinatham had its share of illiteracy, superstition, poverty, and hunger. Tucked away in the confines of the jungle, it was a place where practically no developmental work had been initiated by the government, and for most of its inhabitants, especially the new migrant family of Muniya Gounder, life was more drudgery than pleasure. Muniya Gounder, along with his two sons, Koose Muniswamy and Kirya Ponnuswamy, toiled under the relentless sun all day, tilling land and grazing their meager collection of cattle and sheep. Occasionally they managed to supplement their income by charging a small fee to graze the cattle of a few other villagers.

In this harsh land, where even the young did not dare to dream, Koose Muniswamy's wife, Punithayamma, gave birth to three sons: Koose Madiah, Koose Veerappan, and Arjunan. Born on January 18, 1952, Veerappan soon showed himself to be the smartest of the boys. He was a precocious child, and as he grew older he proved to be an excellent marksman. He could fling a stone effortlessly and with fine-tuned precision to bring down a bunch of tamarind fruit dangling high up in the branches, much to the awe and delight of his friends. Very soon, he and his two brothers were assisting their father in hunting langur in the nearby forests -- langur meat being an occasional and much needed supplement to their meager diet.

The three young boys soon started illegally cutting and smuggling bamboo out to the local craftsmen, who converted it into artifacts for the market. On one of their forays into the jungle, in early 1965, forest guards in the Kollegala division cornered them. Madiah and Arjunan escaped, but Veerappan was caught and a case was registered against him in the Ramapura police station. A local villager known to Veerappan's father stood surety for his bail. This was Veerappan's first brush with the law.

The young Veerappan's spirit of enterprise did not go unnoticed. A pair of eyes had been watching him with interest for a long time ...

Veerappan. Copyright © by Sunaad Raghuram. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2003

    A very satisfying account of a larger-than-life subject

    For years Veerappan has been portrayed as a super human like character inhabiting the dark depths of the jungles of southern India. This perception of the man was as much fuelled by over zealous reporters as by the fact that he was and still is hard to find. Sunaad Raghuram has chronicled his life so splendidly in the sense that he has approached the subject with a rare open-mindedness that allows him to look at it without any preconceived assumptions. He tells the story as it is. No corners cut or no sides taken. A very good book that holds your interest through and through and throws light on many aspects of the bandit which had never been known.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2003

    A deadly bandit's chilling story

    Veerappan has been a bandit on the loose for decades now. All attempts to capture him have proved futile and so have attempts to capture him in print. Either there has been downright exagerration or plain misreporting, with many a journalist taking the liberty of painting his own picture of the man in his own outllandish colours. But this account is definitely different. Surely, it does not romanticise the man and nor does it revolve around hyperbole. It is wonderfuly written with an eye on detail born out of solid research. It is iindeed an eye-opener to all those keen on the story and its ramifications. A thorough effort from the writer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2003

    Veerappan: India's Most Wanted Man

    The story of Veerappan has haunted the Indian sub-conscious for too long now. Reading this book gave me all the insights that there are to the story of a man who has held the entire Indian state to ransom in more ways than one. A story finely told indeed! Thrilling all the way!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2003

    Veerappan: India's Most Wanted Man

    Veerappan has for long been a shadowy figure infesting the dense jungles of southern India. Media interest in the man and his life has been immense. But most reportage has almost always been tinged with a hint of hyperbole and make-believe. This book,though,is conclusively the very best account of the man and his times.The subject has been painstakingly researched and the handling, so mature. A narration that is indeed of the edge-of-the-seat kind that leaves you in awe of the writer's ability to remarkably tell a tale which is at once deadly and thrilling.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2003

    Veerappan: India's Most Wanted Man

    In one of the truly remarkable accounts of a bandit, Sunaad Raghuram achieves the objective of capturing the reader's interest to the maximum. This is a book for all those adventurous sorts, who would like to know a great deal about one of the most intriguing men in the world of crime. The story is a masterly rendition indeed!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2003

    Veerappan: India's Most Wanted Man

    Kudos to journalist Sunaad Raghuram for coming up with this most gripping account of one of the most dreaded bandits of all time. Every page of the book mirrors the in-depth research that has gone into it and is a most credible and thoroughly accomplished attempt at portraying the realities of a portion of modern India. The mature handling of the subject without glamourising the bandit is indeed praiseworthy to the hilt.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2003

    Veerappan: India's Most Wanted Man

    It's so easy to get carried away by the prospect of chronicling a criminal's life for invariably such a life will have huge doses of larger-than-life sequences.And when it is on the life and times of someone of Veerappan's notoriety and barbarity, the writer could just get carried away and end up painting a picture of a superman who is built of steel. But the truly appreciative thing about journalist Sunaad Raghuram's style is that he has achieved a completely believable and credible narrative which takes the reader on a virtual personal trip into the heartland of southern India where the story is set, without indulging in any sort of literary pyrotechnics. Raghuram's writing is crisp, engaging, amazingly descriptive and completely bereft of any hint of romanticism while describing Veerappan and his shocking deeds. This book is bound to leave a great impact on any one who picks it up.Just go for it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2003

    Veerappan: India's Most Wanted Man

    Reading this book gave me the kind of thrill and excitement that no other book on real life characters has given me in a long long time. It's pacy and does not slack at any point,the author taking the reader from one exciting incident to the other in this truly remarkable story with the ease of a master tactician.

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