The police official who wiped out bootlegging from Nellai retires

Tirunelveli : The officer, who uprooted the decades-old lucrative bootlegging in the district which was the root cause of a range of social issues, particularly bloody caste clashes that consumed several lives in till late nineties, retired from service on July 31 as Inspector General of Police (Intelligence) after 29 years of dedicated service.

The communally sensitive district of Tirunelveli thankfully recalls the services of P. Kannappan, who contributed a lot for the development of the district as the Superintendent of Police and the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Tirunelveli Range.

Mr. Kannappan, who was the Superintendent of Police then, convened a meeting in a couple of places in the district to tell the bootleggers in clear terms that they should switch over to some other profession with the official assistance he would be arranging for.

When a few of the bootleggers with caste and political backing tried to overrule Mr. Kannappan’s dictum saying that they could not do anything with the paltry ‘rehabilitation package’, he said: “What I’m going to provide you is something like ‘prasadam’ being given in temples. I can’t give you a ‘full course meal’. Start your business venture with what the government gives. Or else, be prepared to face the music”.

While most of them voluntarily gave up their ‘profession’, a few of them were forced to do so, which actually liberated the district from decades-long bootlegging.

After the youths from Panaivadalichathram, who were working in Kerala, were involved in burglaries in the neighbouring States, the Kerala police conducted pre-dawn raids in the houses of the youths from this village to nab them. When the raids became frequent, Mr. Kannappan, along with then SP Asra Garg, convened a meeting in the village to rehabilitate the youths with the cooperation of their parents. This meeting has a lasting effect even now as police raids have become a thing of the past.

As long as he served here as the SP and then the DIG, almost all notorious rowdies from this region even with political backing shifted their bases to western or northern Tamil Nadu while a few of them went to Mumbai.

Though each member of his team, which successfully hunted down a few ultras at Puththur, was given the cash award, Mr. Kannappan refused to take the Rs.5 lakh given by the State Government. Lastly, he refused to accept the proposal to extend his tenure to another two years.

Starting his career as the DSP, Kamudhi, Mr. Kannappan’s service has interestingly ended in the same district, Ramanathapuram, as he, as the IG (Intelligence), had to be at Peikarumbu where the mortal remains of former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam were laid to rest.

(This article appeared in The Hindu on July 31, 2015)

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