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August 8, 2000
Good news by Wednesday: Krishna
Fakir Chand in Bangalore
Beleaguered Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna on Tuesday declared that his government was still hoping against hope for the early release of Kannada matinee idol Dr Rajakumar by forest brigand Veerappan.
There was no word from the jungles even nine days after he was kidnapped, along with three others from his hometown at Gajanur in the Igallur forest on the Tamil Nadu border.
Ruling out that any contingency plan had been put in place in the event of a deadlock in the hostage crisis, Krishna said he did not think there was need for it as he hoped that the parleys between emissary R Raja Gopal and the Veerappan gang would yield positive results.
"We are hopeful of a positive outcome by Tuesday night. We are constantly in touch with the Tamil Nadu government. We are expecting some good news late at the night or Wednesday morning. According to information from Madras, Gopal is carrying on negotiations with Veerappan to secure the release of Rajakumar and three others," Krishna stated.
Krishna also disclosed that the Tamil Nadu government was in touch with Gopal through his messengers and was expecting a positive response from him at the earliest. "We also have information that Rajakumar's health continues to be good and there was no cause for worry on that count," he claimed.
On whether he had information on Veerappan accepting the response of both governments on his demands, Krishna evaded a direct answer and said, "We have come to know that he had heard the response being broadcast by All India Radio every two hours since Sunday evening. We have no reason to believe that the response was not acceptable to him," the chief minister asserted.
On granting general amnesty to the fugitive, Krishna said the question did not arise as there was no such demand from him. "I have also spoken to Pattali Makkal Katchi founder Dr S Ramadoss and his party legislator Krishnaswamy on their statement for granting clemency to the outlaw and explained our position," he affirmed.
On being reminded about the '48-hour' deadline he had set for the release of the hostages on Sunday evening, after responding to the demands, the chief minister quipped, "Even these 48 hours have been too long a time to have spent waiting for the crisis to end."
Krishna did not respond when asked whether there was a ransom demand from Veerappan along with the other 10 demands.
In view of the prolonged uncertainty over the hostage crisis, Krishna announced that schools and colleges in Bangalore and Mysore cities would continue to remain closed for another two days to prevent students from being exposed to any untoward incidents.
Schools and colleges in the other three districts of the old Mysore region (Bangalore rural, Mandya, and Kollegal districts) will resume from Wednesday. All educational institutions have been shut since July 31, when news of the kidnapping broke out, causing panic among people.
Earlier, Krishna had an hour-long meeting with leaders of all political parties in the state for apprising them on the latest situation. "The opposition parties have whole-heartedly extended full support to the state government's efforts in securing the early release of Rajakumar. We are confident of resolving the crisis peacefully at the earliest," he averred.
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