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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 July, 2003, 09:36 GMT 10:36 UK
Veerappan hunt a 'waste of time'
By Habib Beary
BBC correspondent in Bangalore

A senior police officer in the southern Indian state of Karnataka has said the security forces should call off their 15-year-old hunt for the country's most-wanted bandit, Veerappan.

HT Sangliana (c)
HT Sangliana hopes Veerappan will surrender
HT Sangliana, who was one of India's most popular police officers, said the security forces would never be able to flush out Veerappan from his hideout in the Satyamangalam forests.

Mr Sangliana, who has been the subject of least three films, said the operation was futile.

He retired as Karnataka's additional director-general of police on Monday.

Mr Sangliana was associated for many years with the Special Task Force assigned the task of capturing the bandit.

He told the BBC the best course of action would be to call off the search and take steps to facilitate Veerappan's surrender.

'Clear'

Mr Sangliana said he have the same suggestion to Karnataka's chief minister, SM Krishna, before retiring from office.

"I made my position clear to the highest authority," he said.

Veerappan
Veerappan has so far avoided capture
The police officer described Satyamangalam forest area, where Veerappan is believed to be hiding, as the bandit's "kitchen garden."

"He is a creature of the jungle and knows where to hide," Mr Sangliana said.

He said most of the time the Special Task Force was groping in the dark.

Although the authorities last year more than doubled the reward for information leading to the bandit's capture, Mr Sangliana said information was hard to come by as villagers feared him as much as they held him in awe.

The police officer also said there was no point in engaging central paramilitary forces in the hunt.

"Why should we call them again when they have failed earlier," he said.

Negotiations

Delhi deployed paramilitary troops on two earlier occasions to assist police in hunting Veerappan but without any success.

Mr Sangliana said the hunt was a waste of time and manpower and suggested that the authorities should start negotiations to secure Veerapan's surrender.

The bandit is wanted for more than 100 murders, most of them police and forestry officials.

He is also wanted for elephant poaching and sandalwood smuggling from forests in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu states.

Last year, Veerappan kidnapped a former state minister of Karnataka, H Nagappa.

Mr Nagappa was found dead after three months in captivity.


SEE ALSO:
Tamil nationalist freed
28 Mar 03  |  South Asia
Kidnapped Indian politician found dead
08 Dec 02  |  South Asia
India bandit talks 'difficult'
06 Sep 02  |  South Asia
Indian soldiers join bandit manhunt
10 Dec 00  |  South Asia


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