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August 6, 2000
'Statesman' Veerappan surprises Karnataka, TN
Our Correspondent in Madras
The outlaw Veerappan has surprised the governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu with a list of 10 demands for the release of Kannada movie superstar Rajakumar and three associates kidnapped last week.
Uncharacteristically, he has asked nothing for himself and all reports about demands for ransom and amnesty have proved to be kite-flying exercises by reporters speculating in the face of governmental secrecy.
In what could be a pointer to his future plans, the bandit has presented a list of demands that would have made a populist politician proud.
One of his prominent demands is that the Government of Karnataka should implement quickly the interim award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal and release the river's waters to Tamil Nadu.
His second most important demand is that 'adequate compensation' be paid to the victims of the 1991 Cauvery riots in Bangalore and parts of southern Karnataka.
Further, he has demanded that Tamil be granted the status of second administrative language in Karnataka. The southern parts of the state have a large Tamil-speaking population.
His fourth demand is that a statue of the saint-poet Thiruvalluvar be installed prominently in Bangalore. This has been a long-standing wish of the Tamil minority in the Karnataka capital as well.
He has also asked that the Karnataka government move to get the high court stay on the functioning of the Justice Sadashiva Commission, instituted to look into allegations of atrocities on villagers by the special task forces set up by the two states to hunt him down, vacated. And once the inquiry is completed, he wants proper compensation to be paid to the victims and the accused police officers to be prosecuted.
In a similar vein, he has demanded the release of 205 "innocent persons" languishing in Karnataka's jails, five prisoners in Tamil Nadu jails, and the payment of compensation to the families of nine murdered scheduled caste and tribe persons. The state governments have, however, not released the names of the five prisoners or the nine dead persons.
Lastly, Veerappan has demanded that the procurement price for tea leaves be increased to solve the crisis in the industry and that a solution be found to the problems of workers in the Manjolai Tea Estate, a private plantation in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu.
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