The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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School keeps gates open for Prabha

Chennai, Oct. 21: On her third day of mourning, Muthulakshmi had a comforting moment, too.

As she grieved for her husband, Veerappan's widow today learnt that their younger daughter Prabha would be able to continue in the Cuddalore school where she is a resident-student of Class VII.

Unconfirmed reports had said the school wanted to strike her off the rolls, though the principal denied them yesterday itself.

'The school authorities informed me today they will take back Prabha whenever she returns' after the mourning period is over, the family's lawyer Chandrasekharan, who helped the 12-year-old get admission in St Joseph's Matriculation Higher Secondary School in July, said.

Sources said after Veerappan's death in the Monday night encounter with the Special Task Force, Chandrasekharan was told by one of the nuns to 'take Prabha's transfer certificate and go' as they feared frequent visits by police and the media.

Although the school had taken no formal decision to ask Prabha to leave, it is learnt that a church group prevailed upon them not to take such a step as it could reflect badly on Christian missionary institutions.

A global NGO, World Vision of India, had also assured the authorities it would take care of all the expenses till Prabha finished her higher secondary course and even beyond that, the sources said. Several students, too, had come out in Prabha's support.

Today, the school's principal said Prabha left with permission to attend her father's funeral. 'She is welcome back to pursue the studies.'

With one worry taken care of, Muthulakshmi, who yesterday demanded a compensation for her husband's death, has decided to wait for some time before taking the next step. 'We are collecting some materials and after that we will proceed,' Chandrasekharan said.

Even as the family waited for the post-mortem report before moving the Tamil Nadu human rights commission for a probe into the encounter, bits of information on the STF's meticulously planned 'intelligence trap' for the brigand are beginning to see the light of day.

The final phase of the plot, which had been unfolding for over two months, centred on luring Veerappan away from the forest areas into the trap. Four STF personnel played a critical role in the plan that underlines the determination with which STF chief K. Vijayakumar pursued the bandit.

One of the four was Saravanan, a former personal driver of Vijayakumar who was at the wheels of the so-called ambulance that carried Veerappan and his three associates.

STF sub-inspector Vellathurai, who was among the small group of men who had penetrated Veerappan's inner circle over the past four months or so, had won the brigand's confidence by posing as a rebel of a Tamil extremist group. He even practised speaking like a Tamil militant.

Knowing Veerappan's penchant in recent years for hobnobbing with Tamil extremist outfits, Vellathurai's camouflage played a crucial role in convincing the bandit to move out of his forest base to a safe place for treating his eye ailment, sources said.

The two others ' Prasanna and Raja Rajan ' donned several roles, including that of dhobis and construction workers, to collect intelligence on Veerappan's movements in the forests. Vijayakumar today told All India Radio in an interview that an 'electronic eye' had been fitted in the ambulance to 'monitor' Veerappan's activities.

A separate STF team had been monitoring the pictures beamed by the sophisticated camera and conveying the information to Vijayakumar and STF superintendent of police Senthamarai Kannan as they proceeded in a Maruti Gypsy to the spot where they had planned to waylay the ambulance.

The STF chief paid a courtesy call to chief minister Jayalalithaa and explained the nuances of the entire operation. He presented a bouquet to Jayalalithaa and thanked her for her government's assistance and encouragement and her 'intellectual guidance'.

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