MYSORE: Muthulakshmi, widow of Veerappan, the notorious forest bandit, claimed she would host a lunch for an estimated 1,000 people at Moolakadu village near Mettur in Tamil Nadu on Saturday to mark the tenth death anniversary of her husband.
“Though the police refused to give me permission, I managed to get the go-ahead from the court,” Ms. Muthulakshmi told The Hindu over telephone.
It was exactly ten years ago on October 18 that the Special Task Force of Tamil Nadu killed Veerappan in an encounter in Papparapatti in Dharmapuri district, after the bandit defied the governments of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala for more than a decade. During his reign in the forests bordering the three States, Veerappan was not only wanted for poaching elephants for ivory and smuggling sandalwood, but also for killing more than 180 persons, including police and forest officials.
Ten years after his death, Muthulakshmi said she managed to lead an honourable life serving the tribal population and supporting the education of her two girls.
“I would not like to discuss my children for fear of their safety,” said Ms. Muthulakshmi, who said she was presently residing in Mettur. She said she depends on earnings from small agricultural landholdings.
Meanwhile, human rights activist Baburaj P., who is also an advocate for Amburaj, one of Veerappan’s associates who is serving life sentence in Mysore prison, said the government had done little to bring about development in areas like Chamarajanagar district, that were under the grip of the bandit.
“The people of these areas continue to remain deprived. Socio-economic inequities can breed more Veerappans,” he sought to caution.
The government, which spent several crores of rupees on the Special Task Force (STF), has not spent even a fraction of the amount on improving the living conditions of people in the region, he said. The people of the region were at the receiving end of both Veerappan as well as the STF.