SALEM: Persons of Tamil origin figuring in the Karnataka Forest Department’s shoot-at-sight order list of 19 persons are said to be hiding inside thick forests for nearly a year, feeding on forest honey, herbs and also without clothes to change over.
A group of lawyers representing the Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) and the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) took a five-day trek into undisclosed locations in the forest few days ago. They reportedly met Motta alias Chinapee and R Ravana, both accused of having helped the late brigand Veerappan and now branded as associates of Saravanan alias Veerappan-II, who was arrested a few months ago.
According to tapes purportedly containing the conversation of the two fugitives released by the lawyers, Motta is from the Sholiga tribal community. Members of this community, who speaks in ancient Tamil accent, are spread out in small clusters of forest hamlets in the Sathyamangalam, Andhiyur and Kathrimalai hill ranges. Motta reportedly told the lawyers that his family thrives on minor forest produce collection but the Karnataka Forest Department has booked him along with Saravanan in cases of tiger and tusker poaching, just because he happens to hail from the village next to Oonchakorai, the village of Saravanan. “I dread to recollect the torture I underwent at the Karnataka STF camp at MM Hills. I would rather jump off from a cliff and die than be arrested by the Karnataka police and suffer in yet another torture camp,” Motta has claimed to the lawyers.
He claimed to be surviving on honey and herbs. “Sometimes I would mimic the sounds of forest fouls, entice them into a net and roast them for meat,” the man in tattered clothes has told the team of lawyers.
His wife, Thundiam (45) said that after being relieved in cases connected with Veerappan, Motta lived a normal life but elephant poachers would force him and other tribal men to join them to provide assistance. Cases were foisted on him, she claimed. “Like Veerappan, I too had to walk miles for water during summer when the streams in the forest dried,” Ravana, a native of Omalur, who later shifted to Maatalli in Kollegal Taluk (in Karnataka), reportedly said.
Claiming to have met Veerappan and received some advice from him, Ravana claimed that Tamils were being falsely implicated in cases.“For nearly a year, I am holed up in the thick forest, evading the shoot-at-sight orders. Informers, forest and policemen are after me. I am tired of being on the run, I wish the Tamil Nadu government takes steps to get me amnesty,” he told the lawyers. A Julius, a lawyer, said the Tamil Nadu STF is helping the Karnataka Forest Department to trace the fugitives.