SALEM: Karnataka STF officials have blamed their Tamil Nadu counterparts for not doing enough to end the menace of forest brigand Saravanan Gownder, who they have been searching for three years now.
Saravanan Gownder (45), a native of Oonajakorai at Govindapadi Village in Salem district, has been wreaking havoc in the forests on the borders of both the states. Nicknamed Veerappan-2 for emulating the modus operandi of the slain brigand, Saravanan with a gang of 20 skilled hunters has turned the M M Hills in Karnataka and Sathiyamangalam forests in Tamil Nadu into his fortress. Operating from these places, he has been frequently targeting tuskers. He is said to be supplying the flesh of bison and deer to the well-organised underworld wild animal meat market.
According to Karnataka Forest Department, Saravanan has so far killed six tuskers in the last one year. His elusiveness is largely owing to the tactics of ambushing forest patrol staff, which was perfected by Veerappan. An attack on Karnataka forest guards near Palar check post 10 days ago had swung the Karnataka government into action by increasing patrol and combing operation in jungles to curb Saravanan’s reign of terror. The personnel enjoyed a measure of success when they killed 14 well-trained hunting dogs of his gang recently.
However, the operations have hit a dead end as the Karnataka forest officials suspect Saravanan has fled to TN. “It becomes difficult to track him after he crosses over the border. The cooperation from our Tamil Nadu counterparts has left much to be desired for,” say both the police personnel across the border.
Meanwhile, a former ranger of Mettur Range said that Saravanan had migrated to Karnataka long ago. He said that Saravanan enjoyed massive support from his community in Mettur taluk and Kolathur block. “For them he is like Robin Hood,” he said.
In 2013, the Kolathur police managed to nab Saravanan, who had about 15 cases against him then. He was made to sign a bond under section 110 of the CrPc, before being let off, said sources.