According to all the news channels, infamous sandalwood smuggler and kidnapper Veerappan is now no more. The official version says that the joint Special Task Force created by the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu police departments finally hunted him down after years of sustained intelligence gathering operations in the sandalwood forests.
What we have not been told, however, is that the man responsible for ridding the world of this notorious anti-social ruffian was none other than S.K.Gowda, sarpanch of Ramangiri village on the outskirts of the sandalwood forests, and on the fringes of the territories that Veerappan called his own.
Here is the truth behind the veil of lies that officialdom has so elaborately constructed around the entire episode...
Blessed with matinee idol looks even in his fifties, with thick eyebrows, and a stack of pristine, glossy hair with streaks of silver running through them (almost as if painted by the creator himself with his divine 15 no. brush), S.K.Gowda is part of the task force in better times. Responsible for the group's intial successes, he incurs the terrible anger of the forest brigand.
Violence and death are now so mundane that even the most horrific of deeds do not move us anymore. Populations are wiped out by famine; rioteers indiscriminately loot, pillage and ransack neighbourhoods. Women and children suffer unthinkable abuse at the hands of psychopathic chauvinists and perverts. It should be no surprise then, that Veerappan's ruthless mass-murder of Gowda's own family should go unnoticed by the national media. Neither is the blatant arrogance with which the government disowns him after both of his arms have to be amputated when an impetuous, unauthorised reprisal goes horribly wrong.
Reduced to farming his dying fields, and, dressed in a spotless white kurta and pashmima shawl that hides his discomfiture, stalking the dark galleries of his ancestral home like a sulking ghost, Gowda confronts the terrible meaninglessness and emptiness that is his life. And then, discovers reserves of strength in his mind. A strength he has no idea ever existed.
Like the Count of Monte Cristo, he finds vengeance his only aim, and he channelizes his terrible hatred to one end -- the destruction of Veerappan and his cohorts. Stealthily he assembles a village militia to counter the barbaric forest men. In Javagal and Veerangal, two ex-convicts, he finds able lieutenants. One-by-one they pick off Veerapan's men until they force a final confrontation.
In a finale as bloody and viscious as the worst in the annals of human warfare, Veerappan's band is wiped out. Not without heavy casualties. Javagal, in an unprecedented act of bravery, or maybe stupidity, blows himself to pieces when he misjudges the timer on some explosives that have been strategically placed in Veerappan's path.
It is only hours later that the task force is notified, and police officers and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Commitee members rush to Ramangiri to claim all the credit for the destruction of the century's most elusive criminal.
But Gowda still lives. Alone in that massive edifice erected by his ancestors which he has made his labyrinth. And here he waits patiently for the end, when he shall be summoned again by his creator in his next life -- there again to confront his nemesis. Again to play the part that fate, that harsh mistress, has decreed he play...