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August 1, 2000
Karnataka govt trying to restore normalcy
Fakir Chand in Bangalore
Two days after Kannada super star Dr Rajakumar, along with three others associates, was taken hostage by legendary brigand Veerappan, the Karnataka government succeeded in persuading Nakkeeran editor R Gopal to mediate with the outlaw on its behalf, on Tuesday night. Dr Rajakumar is supposedly being held captive in the dense forests of M M Hills in Tamil Nadu.
Meanwhile, efforts are on to restore normalcy in Bangalore after a two-day bandh. Authorities say public transport will be resumed on Wednesday though educational institutions will remain closed for one more day (Wednesday) as a precautionary measure.
The Bangalore police claimed to have taken about 300 anti-social elements into custody during the day-long bandh in the state that passed off without any untoward incident. However, all activity came to a standstill.
According to Additional Commissioner of Police B N Nagraj, 8 platoons of the Central Reserve Police Force were deployed in Bangalore. "One company of the Rapid Action Force staged flag marches in some of the sensitive localities," he said.
As a pre-cautionary measure, the state government has ordered closure of schools and colleges for one more day (Wednesday). "An announcement about reopening of educational institutions from Thursday onwards would be taken after reviewing the situation on Wednesday evening," a state home ministry official stated.
The state government, however, declared that public transport and other utility services would be resumed from Wednesday in a bid to restore normalcy. Chief Minister S M Krishna and his cabinet colleagues thanked the people of the state, especially the citizens of Bangalore, for maintaining calm during the two-day bandh.
The family of Dr Rajakumar also thanked his fans for heeding their appeal to remain peaceful.
Earlier, even before Veerappan could announce his demands, Gopal seized the opportunity to force the state government to withdraw a legal case registered against him four years ago. This was one of his conditions for mediating on its behalf. He also sought a written guarantee for his safety from the state authorities earlier in the day.
At a hurriedly called media briefing in Bangalore, a haggard Karnataka Home Minister Mallikarjun Kharge declared that the state government had withdrawn the case against Gopal in Kollegal sessions courts 'as a goodwill gesture for negotiating with Veerappan for the release of the hostages.
"The case was filed in 1996 under sections 153, 120a and 120b of the Criminal Procedure Code against Gopal for having worked against the interests of the Karnataka government," Kharge stated. This followed the publication of a series of interviews with Veerappan. The government accused Gopal of covertly supporting the outlaw's nefarious acts.
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