SALEM/BANGALORE: Sharavanan Gounder, who has fashioned himself after dreaded bandit Veerappan, was arrested by Salem police on Wednesday in connection with a 2010 case. Sharavanan (45), known as "Junior Veerappan", is one of the most wanted person in Karnataka for killing five elephants and terrorizing people.
On hearing of the arrest, Karnataka forest officials rushed to the Mettur sub-collector's office to take Sharavanan into their custody. But Tamil Nadu police didn't allow them to do so in the absence of any warrant or document.
"They don't have any official warrant to take him in their custody. But they have a plan to arrest him. We are ready to extend our support to Karnataka forest and police officials if they come with a proper warrant," Salem's police superintendent R Sakthivel said.
READ ALSO: TN police arrest 'junior' Veerappan, likely to release him as Karnataka police wait to pick him up
The Karnataka officials filed a petition before the judicial magistrate first class seeking custody of the poacher. The court remanded him to judicial custody till July 2. He has been lodged at the Salem central prison. "Adjourning our hearing to Thursday, the court remanded Sharavanan to 15 days judicial custody. We will interrogate him soon," a senior forest official from Karnataka told TOI.
Sakthivel said, "We arrested him on Wednesday morning under Section 109 (security for good behaviour) of the CrPC and produced him before the Mettur sub-collector. Initially, we planned to release him on bail with the consent of the sub-collector after he executed a bond for good behaviour with two sureties. But the Tamil Nadu forest department had obtained a non-bailable arrest warrant against Sharavanan from the Mettur judicial magistrate in connection with a 2010 case where two men were caught with an elephant tusk."
Though Karnataka police had been on the poacher's trail for the past one week, Sakthivel said he came to know about the operation only on Tuesday. But Karnataka forest department officials are unhappy because their Tamil Nadu counterparts did not inform them of Sharavanan's detention on Tuesday and arrest the following day. "For one week, we were in constant touch with Tamil Nadu forest officials seeking their cooperation. Sadly, they did not inform us of the arrest. We came to know of it from media reports," an official said.
"In Tamil Nadu, he has a case against him under the Arms Act for illegal possession of weapons (registered in 2012), besides the 2010 elephant tusk case. Similarly, he has some minor theft cases," Sakthivel said. But in Karnataka, Sharavanan has earned notoriety, having been accused of having poached five elephants for their tusks within a span of one year. He and his gang killed four of the elephants recently near Hosur and the BRT Tiger Reserve with country-made guns.
READ ALSO: Foresters all at sea as poacher rules Veerappan turf
Besides poaching elephants in the same territory that Veerappan operated in, Sharavanan spread terror in the region.
Vasudeva Murthy, assistant conservator of forest, Male Mahadeshwara Wildlife Sanctuary, told TOI: "Sharavanan and his gang, comprising 20 men, attacked forest guards and escaped from Karnataka forests to Tamil Nadu a few days ago. We had launched a manhunt for him and his gang." A team of officials comprising the Karnataka Special Task Force and a small contingent from the Tiger Task Force in Bannerghatta had combed the MM Hills sanctuary for one week.
"We got a tip-off that Sharavanan was hiding in his village, following which we sought the support of Tamil Nadu police," Murthy said. But he refused to comment when asked why Karnataka police didn't take any warrant to secure the poacher's custody.
But the Tamil Nadu police said Sharavanan is not a notorious criminal like Veerappan, who was shot dead in Dharmapuri district in 2004. "He is a history-sheeter in our records and doesn't seem to me to be a dreaded bandit. He was available in his village Oonjakkarai, near Mettur, where he lives with his wife and three children," Sakthivel said.
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In Karnataka: Sharavanan is a dreaded poacher who was threatening to become another Veerappan. He operated in Veerappan's territory and had become a nemesis for elephants. Besides killing five tuskers, he terrorized villagers
In Tamil Nadu: Far from being a dreaded bandit, Sharavanan is a history-sheeter. There are cases against him for illegal possession of elephant tusks and weapons. Besides, he has some minor theft cases