‘Rambo’ Gopalakrishnan was injured in Palar landmine blast
Injuries suffered in the Palar landmine blast in which associates of slain forest brigand Veerappan blew up a police convoy in 1993 has left retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police K. Gopalakrishnan bedridden.
The well-built man, popularly known as ‘Rambo’ Gopalakrishnan, led the police party that went in search of Veerappan when the landmines were triggered simultaneously leaving 22 persons, including some police personnel and civilians, dead. A grievously injured Gopalakrishnan, then a Superintendent of Police in the Special Task Force, was rushed to hospital.
Since then he has undergone about a dozen surgeries but could not recover fully. He was on medical leave for more than a year.
“I underwent a hip surgery for a severe nerve injury last month. It has been paining for years…now I am unable to walk and bedridden,” he told The Hindu over phone on Tuesday.
Asked for his reaction to the Supreme Court verdict commuting the death sentence of 15 convicts, including the four associates of Veerappan involved in the Palar blast, to life imprisonment, Mr. Gopalakrishnan only said: “I am yet to recover, god is great…”
The former IPS officer was lured into a trap by Veerappan and his associates. Putting out banners challenging him to face them in the forest, the suspects planted powerful landmines and triggered the blasts simultaneously on 9 April, 1993, police sources said.
Mr. Gopalakrishnan, who did not travel in the vehicle he was originally assigned to, was standing on the footboard of the vehicle and was thrown out in the intensity of the blasts. His evidence that he saw Simon, Bilavendra, Gnanaprakash and Madaiah fleeing from the scene of crime was crucial in getting conviction in the case, the sources added.
Former Superintendent of Police Ashok Kumar who also played a vital role in the STF’s operation against Veerappan and his associates said the suspects should have been executed after the judgment.
“Justice delayed is justice denied…the delay (in disposing of the mercy petition) should have been avoided. We must not forget that 22 people were killed in the incident. But then the prolonged delay whipped up sympathy for the convicts,” he said.
Mr. Kumar was following the convoy and his vehicle was a few metres away from the blast scene. “I shifted Mr. Gopalakrishnan and other injured in my vehicle and asked the driver to reach the nearest hospital. With just four or five armed policemen, I took charge of the situation as we had to protect the bodies, arms and ammunition at the scene.”
Recalling how Veerappan’s associates came back to collect the arms and ammunition, he said they opened fire and chased them into the forest. Their target was clearly to eliminate Mr. Gopalakrishnan and steal the weapons, he said.
An Inspector of Police then, Mr. Kumar was given accelerated promotion in appreciation of his bravery by the Tamil Nadu Government.