Monday, Apr 07, 2003
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By K.T. Sanagameswaran
Twentyfive personnel are being put through an intensive exercise from a height of 30 metres in sliding down a rope from a helicopter, the Additional Director-General of Police, STF, R.Natraj, told The Hindu.
The strategy would help the special unit in dropping personnel in any particular spot in the forests on receipt of reliable and real-time intelligence. A group of 25 personnel underwent training last year. Choppers from the IAF, mainly from Sulur, near Coimbatore, have been requisitioned.
With the STF getting some breathing time owing to lack of worthwhile information on the whereabouts of the poacher-turned-sandalwood smuggler, a refresher training has also been taken up for a select batch.
However, the efficacy of the training would depend on timely intelligence the STF receives. Officials claim that local people, including tribals in the forests, after initial hesitation, are parting with information. But no specific intelligence seems to reach the police.
With summer getting oppressive, it is feared that the going for the personnel will be tough in the coming months, though the Satyamangalam forests received intermittent rain in the last few days. Veerappan may also restrict his movements. Soon after the discovery of the former Karnataka Minister, Nagappa's body, there were reports that the MM Hills had been surrounded by the STF following reports that Veerappan was hiding there. But the police drew a blank.
Vigil was intensified near Mettupalayam a few days ago following information on Veerappan's presence, but nothing came out of it. The Tamil Nadu STF, which maintains that he is still on the Karnataka side, is desperately hoping for a "chance encounter".
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