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August 7, 2000
Dr Rajakumar will be released soon, say former hostages
N Niranjan Nikam in Mysore
Two Mysore-based wildlife photographers know Veerappan better that most.
The duo, Krupakar and Senani, were kidnapped from their farmhouse in Bandipur by the outlaw and kept hostage for 27 days in October, 1997.
"Though parallels can be drawn from the way we were kidnapped and the kidnapping of Dr Rajakumar, essentially there are many differences," says Krupakar, the more outspoken of the two.
According to Krupakar, when Rajakumar was kidnapped, Veerappan had definite information and knew exactly what to do. "In our case, he did not have much information when he entered our isolated house in the Bandipur forest, under cover of darkness. He began started terrorising us and we feared for our lives," says Krupakar.
"Besides, the night after our kidnapping, we were witness to another kidnapping. Three forest officers and a scientist were kidnapped. We were made to walk for long distances," he recalled.
"Dr Rajakumar really does not have to fear for his life. But the interaction between a hero who is larger than life and a villain, who reputation has reached gargantuan proportions could be really interesting, he said.
"We could strike a chord with Veerappan because of our experience with wildlife," he revealed.
"The pressure this time is on Veerappan as he knows the consequences if things go wrong and the governments are also taking the issue seriously. But when we were kidnapped, we had to literally struggle and negotiate for our release," says the photographer, without rancour.
"One should also not be surprised if Dr Rajakumar speaks well of Veerappan after he is released as he will have seen the brigand's humane face, though Veerappan has no qualms at any point of time in agreeing that he is a criminal," said Krupakar.
"This talk about the deterioration of Dr Rajakumar's health is far fetched. On the contrary his health will improve greatly as he will be one with nature, drinking pure stream water," says the wildlife expert.
"We had to watch Veerappan's every step, his moves and his moods but with Dr Rajakumar it will be an entirely different story," he says.
The lensman feels Dr Rajakumar will be released in another three days and confidently predicts that Veerappan will not come back and join the mainstream. "He is very proud of his name, fame and his moustache. Veerappan will take his money and melt into the forests," he said.
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