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STF rejects suicide angle

Chennai, Oct. 24: The Tamil Nadu special task force has said 'there is absolutely nothing' in the theory that Veerappan committed suicide, a suspicion apparently sparked by comments of its Karnataka counterpart.

Answering a reporter at the Chennai airport yesterday, Karnataka STF chief Jyothi Prakash Mirji said it was for the 'local police (in Tamil Nadu) to investigate' any complaint that the bandit might have killed himself on October 18.

That day, Veerappan was killed in a shootout with the joint task force near Dharmapuri.

'There is absolutely nothing in this theory being floated as Veerappan was shot from a close range of about 20 ft from the STF lorry that night,' Senthamarai Kannan, the Tamil Nadu STF intelligence chief, told The Telegraph today.

Kannan played a critical role over the past one year in penetrating Veerappan's inner circle.

'Nobody can say where the bullet will hit (in a shootout); only after the encounter we saw the wounds,' he said referring to a bullet that penetrated Veerappan on the left side of his forehead and raised suspicions that he pulled the trigger himself.

The post-mortem has been conducted and the 'cause of his death is known', Kannan added.

He denied that anybody had lodged a formal complaint with the local police that Veerappan could have committed suicide.

As for the apprehensions of Veerappan's wife Muthulakshmi, Kannan said she was seeking 'media attention and sympathy '.

What the Karnataka STF chief referred to, he said, was that the local police were conducting routine investigations into the shootout because the STF 'has no investigative powers'.

'We (on the STF's behalf) have said that an encounter took place in which Veerappan and three of his associates were killed after they disregarded our warning to surrender and fired at us,' Kannan said referring to the complaint he lodged with the local police.

The police registered an FIR and are investigating on the basis of this complaint 'also a routine procedure, he added. 'I have no iota of doubt that Veerappan was shot dead in the encounter.'

The forest department has asked residents near Sathyamangalam and Bannari not to venture into the forests as they are reported to be preparing to unearth Veerappan's 'riches'.

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