Veerappan’s first interviewer, ‘Nakkeran Gopal’ holds a talk at MIC2 min read
Manipal:With a moustache that brings back memories of South India’s infamous dacoit fanning across his face, R.R.Gopal’s is not an easy face to miss. Most popular for his sessions with the Sandalwood smuggler Veerappan, ‘Nakkeran Gopal’ as he’s called, journalist and editor of Tamil biweekly Nakkeran, gave an impromptu talk at the Manipal Institute of Communication (MIC) on September 1.
Detailing the scams exposed in his 25 years with the magazine, he mentioned the five years of search and research to discover the faces behind serial killer ‘Auto Shankar’, refuting AIADMK’s Jayalalitha’s statement regarding an attack on P.Chidambaran by providing photographic proof and the story behind his appointment as the negotiator between the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments and Veerappan while film star Dr. Rajkumar was kidnapped by the latter.
“He embodies the robustness of native journalism prevalent in our languages. I admire his willingness to take risks, which is special about him,” said Prof. Varadesh Hiregange, Director of MIC about the journalist whose risky endeavours has led to disagreements with those in power, resulting in 211 charges being filed against him.
‘Daredevil journalism’ being their tagline, Gopal explained the importance of taking the initiative with the unusual. He said, “As a layout designer, it is not good to have the same cover picture twice. So when the police again put the same picture of a skinny man in a safari suit as a murderer, I wondered how it was possible, if he was even real. So I told my people that go, get me a picture of the real Veerappan and I will give you an award. That’s how it started.” A year of identifying informers of both Veerappan and the police bore fruit when a message requesting a meet was successfully received. Only after a series of ‘tasks’ testing their desperation did the team meet the elusive bandit.
He also made it clear that he did not justify Veerappan’s actions or support them; he simply did not refrain from mentioning the tortures the Special Task Force meted out to the villagers who were suspected of protecting Veerappan. As a member of the audience questioned his appearance, he joked that he was surprised when for the first time he saw that he and Veerappan shared the same signature moustache style and was scared the police would assume he was the dacoit.
Bhavana Akella, second year student from MIC said, “It’s very rare that you get to listen to life stories of people who have taken up the responsibility of putting themselves in danger to save a few states from collapsing and in the end have also succeeded in doing so. It is also important to know that one might not come across very green pastures in the field of journalism.”
Sub-edited by Bhavani Seetharaman