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August 4, 2000
We have an open mind on Veerappan's demands, says Krishna
Fakir Chand in Bangalore
Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna declared on Friday that his government had an open mind on the demands of forest brigand Veerappan for the safe release of Kannada superstar Dr Rajakumar and his three associates.
The foursome are still in the outlaw's captivity in the Sathyamangalam forests, five days after they were kidnapped from Rajakumar's farmhouse at Gajanur, just across the inter-state border in Erode district of Tamil Nadu.
Krishna briefed the media in Bangalore on the contents of the audio tape with the matinee idol's voice in Kannada, which conveyed for the first time that he is not only well, but also that the governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu should concede all of Veerappan's demands.
Krishna, however, did not spell out what the demands were, nor whether both governments were considering them if they had already received them.
Besides the release of the ivory poacher's accomplices, who have been lodged in jails in Mysore over the years, and the transfer of cases against him to the Madras high court, Veerappan's main demand is believed to be a general amnesty from both states for all his crimes.
"I believe in the philosophy of Jayaprakash Narayan, who had advocated that everybody should be given a chance to reform in life. We have an open mind on what Veerappan wants," a hesitant Krishna said.
Krishna was referring to the late Socialist leader's role in getting several dreaded dacoits of the Chambal Valley in Madhya Pradesh to surrender in the Seventies and lead normal lives.
Rajakumar has also warned both states against launching any military or commando action in a bid to rescue the hostages as such a step would mar the efforts of emissary R Raja Gopal in securing their early release.
The Kannada thespian urged the people of both states, especially his millions of Kannadiga fans, to remain calm. "Please maintain your cool. Do not create disturbances and cause violence. Don't worry, I am fine. My health is good. There is no cause for any worry. I will be back soon," he said.
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