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August 12, 2000
Veerappan's new demands difficult to meet
N Sathiya Moorthy in Madras
With forest brigand Veerappan setting down additional conditions for freeing kidnapped Kannada matinee idol Dr Rajakumar, the entire episode is getting more complicated.
If one thought that the first set of 10 demands was a handful, some of the new demands will be very difficult to meet.
At least one of, an extension of an earlier one on the Cauvery water dispute, will be almost impossible to meet. Veerappan wants the issue taken to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
Another relates to the demand for making Tamil the compulsory medium of instruction up to tenth standard in Tamil Nadu. Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, who briefed the media Friday evening after discussions with his Karnataka counterpart, S M Krishna, said the issue involves the higher judiciary.
He said a three-judge bench of the Madras High Court has already struck down a state government order making Tamil, the medium of instruction in all government and aided schools up to the fifth standard. The court held that the right to choosing the medium of instruction was a fundamental right under the Constitution.
"The state government's appeal against the high court order is now pending before the Supreme Court," Karunanidhi explained.
Veteran jurists do not see any reason for the Supreme Court to interfere with high court order, unless new grounds are forwarded by the state government.
"Veerappan's is trying to force decisions that do not have a public mandate. Worse still, others could use it as a precedent and force governments to yield to their demands," an official said.
While doubts have been raised about the seriousness with which Veerappan is approaching the subject, questions are also being asked about his new demand on the Cauvery waters dispute. Says a source: "Either Veerappan does not know the seriousness of it, or his handlers from the militant groups have understood it, and yet forced him into demanding the same."
The International Court of Justice handles only disputes between two nation-states and not provincial-states.
"Hence, any case taken up by the court will be deemed to involve two independent nation-states," a source said.
Applied to the present situation, Veerappan or his Tamil militant allies are seeking to present a fait accompli of an 'independent Tamil homeland', by forcing one or both the state governments to move The Hague.
"It may then be time for the Centre to step in and draw the line. Already, the two state governments, in their anxiety to save Dr Rajakumar, and prevent an anti-Tamil carnage in Karnataka, have yielded quite a lot," the source said.
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