SALEM: The man dubbed ‘Veerappan 2’, who wreaked havoc with a poaching spree in forests of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and carried out brazen attacks on forest officials, was nabbed at his native village Oonjakorai in Mettur Taluk, by Kolathur police on Tuesday.
Saravanan Gounder (45) had been pursued by Karnataka’s Special Task Force (STF) in M M Hills for the past five days. The search was ordered after the Karnataka Minister for Forests met forest officials, who wanted to end Saravanan’s reign of terror in the M M Hills Wild Life Sanctury area.
When apprehended a fortnight ago for poaching, Saravanan and a gang of about 20 attacked forest guards and made their escape. This was followed by the decision to send a special force. The decision to send the STF came after this incident. The STF, comprising a small contigent from the Tiger Task Force in Bannergatta was dispatched to comb the area which had come under his sphere of influence.
This was not the first search operation. Saravanan, who had previously been as elusive as Veerappan, fled to Tamilnadu whenever his Karnataka trail got too hot to handle. He was suspected to have landed in a safety net surrounded by well-wishers, who reportedly considered him a modern day Robin Hood.
Karnataka Forest and police personnel were in touch with their counterparts in Tamil Nadu and expressed their need for support to nab the dreaded poacher. Following this, the Kolathur Police nabbed him on Tuesday at Oonchakorai and brought him to Kolathur Police station. He was later taken to an undisclosed location. But the Tamil Nadu Police denied that they were arresting him or going to remand him.
“We were only verifying his history sheet which is routine procedure,” said Mettur DSP M Ravikumar.
Meanwhile, reports emerging from Karnataka indicate that officials from Kollegal in Karnataka were on their way to Kolathur. Whether he would be handed over to them was not disclosed.
Saravanan is one of the many small-time poachers in the post-Veerappan era to be seen as yet another version of the notorious sandalwood smuggler.
Indeed, Saravanan and his brigand’s modus operandi draws parallels. A sharp shooter and an astute hunter, Saravanan headed a gang of 20 skilled hunters.