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August 10, 2000
Karnataka wondering what's on Veerappan's mind
Fakir Chand in Bangalore
The Karnataka government on Thursday declared that it would wait for the return of its emissary R R Gopal before deciding on the next course of action. Meanwhile, Kannada super star Dr Rajakumar continues to be held hostage by Veerappan along with three others somewhere in the Satyamangalam forest.
On the 11th day of the on-going hostage crisis, Chief Minister S M Krishna disclosed that Gopal had conveyed a message to the state government of his imminent return from the forest. The message was in yet another audio cassette, which reached Bangalore 10-12 hours after it was received in Madras, in the wee hours of Thursday, from Gopal's associate Subbu.
"The audio tape has voices of Gopal as well as of Dr Rajakumar. Gopal has conveyed that negotiations for the release of the hostages were on. Dr Rajakumar has said that he was in good health and that the governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu should accede to the demands made by Veerappan at the earliest," Krishna claimed.
"We will know Veerappan's stand on our response to his demands from Gopal and details of his parleys with the brigand," Krishna asserted. He denied that the latest tape contained any fresh demand as was reported in a section of the media.
"The situation continues to be critical. Our main concern is to get Dr Rajakumar back. All efforts are being made in that direction only. The couple of pictures that were received along with the tape clearly show that Dr Rajakumar and the other hostages are doing well, and there was no cause for worry."
Even as the deadlock continues, the state government felt confident enough to announce the re-opening of professional colleges in Bangalore and Mysore from Friday and schools from Monday.
"Bars, pubs and liquor shops that were ordered to be shut during the last 11 days will be allowed to resume business from August 14," Krishna affirmed.
Asked why Gopal took as many as six days to reach Veerappan's hideout and why he is delaying the negotiation process, Krishna said he could neither hold a brief for the emissary nor was he prepared to be cross-examined.
Asked whether the intelligence agencies were active and collecting information about the brigand and his movements, Krishna said the agencies were on their job.
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