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Daughter to heal and serve in bandit village

Chennai, Oct. 22: Vidyarani, the older daughter of Veerappan, wants to fulfil mother Muthulakshmi's wish that she become a doctor and serve poor tribals around her father's native Gopinatham village.

Vidyarani, a Class IX student at a Coimbatore school, said: 'I want to study well, become a doctor and serve the rural poor.'

The teenager has lived away from her parents most of her life, with Veerappan topping Tamil Nadu and Karnataka police's most-wanted list and her mother traumatised by the special task force trailing the bandit.

Veerappan was buried on Wednesday at Moolakadu village near Mettur, where many relatives of the bandit's elder brother Madiah live. Officials in Mettur said Vidyarani and her younger daughter Prabha interacted briefly with the media at the place Veerappan was buried during third-day ceremonies.

Class VII student Prabha, who never met her father, is keen to make it to the civil services. Even as the uncertainty over her continuing at Cuddalore's St Joseph Matriculation Higher Secondary School lifted, the 12-year-old said she wants to switch to a school in Chennai next year.

Muthulakshmi broke down at her husband's grave at Moolakadu, where some rituals were performed, including the removal of the taali signifying widowhood.

The bandit's widow was arrested in 1993 and placed in STF custody for three years, but claims to have endured long years of 'torture and harassment' by the force, which has shadowed her even after her formal release. Muthulakshmi was released from STF custody a few years ago on a Madras High Court order.

The mother of two lived apart from Veerappan for the last 10 years, eking out a living doing odd jobs ' she worked at a weaving factory at Annur near Mettur and then joined a hosiery unit as a helper in Tiruppur.

A relative of her husband later helped her to run a small shop in Mettur. In all this, she has found it tough to get her daughters properly educated.

'In the last 10 years, only once Veerappan had sent me some money, but even that had been seized by the STF,' Muthulakshmi is reported to have said.

Official sources in Mettur said two representatives of the Veera Vanniyar Peravai met Muthulakshmi today and promised her a job in one of the self-financing colleges managed by Jagathrakshagan, a former NDA MP who runs the group.

They have also promised to help Vidya and Prabha complete their education. Veerappan belonged to the Padayachi Gounder community, also known as Vanniyars.

Cop on pilgrimage

K. Vijayakumar, the chief of Tamil Nadu's special task force that gunned down Veerappan, is set to go on a pilgrimage to offer thanks to Vayu Putra Hanuman.

The former commando, who tonsured his head at Bannari Amman temple in Erode district 'in fulfilment of a personal vow' after killing Veerappan, will set out on a padayatra next Thursday from the same temple.

He will then proceed to the Anjeneyar Temple at Nanganallur in suburban Chennai to fulfil a 'religious vow' he took when he assumed charge of the STF in November last year.

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