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August 4, 2000
I am happy, I am well, I am comfortable: Rajakumar
Our correspondent in Bangalore
The gist, in English, of what Kannada film icon Dr Rajakumar, being held hostage by sandalwood smuggler Veerappan, said in a cassette sent to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi on Friday morning.
He begins by apologising to fans for the inconvenience and worry that this sudden turn of events must have caused them.
"My dear fans, my beloved friends, I know you have all suffered greatly because of the sudden happening that took me away," he says. "It is only right that I apologise for it and explain to you myself what happened."
He goes on to explain that "six or seven armed men" barged into his farmhouse and demanded, "Who is Rajakumar over here?" He continues calmly, "I replied at once: I am. And I went with them."
He then goes on to reassure listeners that they must not worry that nimma Rajakumar ('your Rajakumar,' as the actor typically refers to himself whenever he speaks to his fans in Karnataka) has been inconvenienced or hurt in any way. "I am being taken care of with great preethi [love] and they are behaving with great vishwasa [trust]," he says.
"This has been an experience that has been most useful to me," he says.
"I never knew that people could live with such bonhomie in such unusual surroundings." The rest of his message can broadly be divided into three parts.
Typically, Rajakumar's main concern seems to be that this disappearance will cause his fans to go berserk in Karnataka. "Nobody other than Rajakumar will get a bad name because of this," he says.
"Please remember that and conduct yourselves peacefully. Do not use this as an excuse and create trouble or harass people.''
He requests the governments not to send out troops or police to hunt down Veerappan at this juncture. "Veerappan advised me to convey this to you," says Rajakumar. "Many anahutagalu [tragedies] and aghaathagalu [accidents] may take place if this happens. Your Rajakumar too might suffer because of this. Veerappan rightly says that he and his men may be able to escape from such hunters, but will I? I request chief minister S M Krishna, Union ministers, the prime minister and Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi to make sure that this does not happen."
Rajakumar goes on to say that having lived in the forests for three days with Veerappan and his men "like a brother," he sees that they too have a point of view that is right in many ways. He requests the governments to consider Veerappan's manavigalu [requests] very seriously, and to see how best they can be met, so that "we can all come out of this situation safely and quickly."
He says, "Whatever they have in their minds, whatever requests they have, please satisfy them at the very earliest. There is actually much that we to have to learn from them. Having lived with them like anna-thammandiru [elder brother and younger brothers], I have had a lot of opportunities to try and understand them well."
"I am happy, I am well, I am comfortable," he concludes. "Please do not worry about me. However, I request that you meet their demands at the very earliest and ensure that we are all rescued from this situation. Please do not think, when I say this, that they are giving me any kind of trouble. They are taking care of me with great preethi."
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