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August 8, 2000
Veerappan's links with TNRT, TNLA are old
Forest brigand Veerappan's links with Tamil extremist groups first came to light in 1998 when the outlaw and his gang teamed up with the Tamil National Retrieval Troops in an attack on a police station at Vellithiruppur in Erode district.
Three of those arrested in connection with this attack figure among the five prisoners whose released Veerappan has sought in exchange of Dr Rajakumar and three others he is holding hostage since July 30.
These three - Sathyamurthy, Manikandan and Muthukumar - are in detention under the National Security Act.
Lawyers who have appeared for these extremists over the years said they were not surprised by the involvement of armed radical groups in the present hostage drama. They said Veerappan has for long been associated with such groups.
The other two prisoners -- Venkatesan and Ponnivalavan -- whose release Veerappan has demanded, belong to the Tamil Nadu Liberation Army, a Marxist-Leninist outfit constituted in the mid-80s.
Venkatesan, facing TADA charges for his alleged involvement in the attack on the Kullanchavadi police station in 1993, was produced in a designated TADA court in Madras on Tuesday afternoon.
His lawyer, who spoke to Venkatesan briefly in the court, said his client was unaware of the demand for his release by Veerappan.
An advocate familiar with TNRT's growth said it's only a loose formation of Tamil nationalist activists, who had been armed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam prior to Rajiv Gandhi's assassination.
The TNLA, formed in the mid-80s by Tamizharasan, a former member of the People's War Group, subscribes to the Tamil nationalist goal of the TNRT and hence the two work together.
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