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August 12, 2000
Gopal may leave after Monday on Mission-II
N Sathiya Moorthy in Madras
The Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments' emissary and Nakkeeran editor R R Gopal may leave for Veerappan land after Monday, once the states decide their response to the forest brigand's demands.
While the earlier mission was exploratory for Gopal, this time round it will be hard on him, as he is expected to convince Veerappan, and more so, his suspected militant Tamil associates, on the impracticality of some demands for freeing kidnapped Kannada film idol Dr Rajakumar.
"It will be tough on him this time," said a source. "On any day, it's a difficult task for a negotiator. But here, it is more difficult, as Gopal may not be sure if he is addressing the 'Tamil extremist' Veerappan, as he himself described the brigand, or hardcore Tamil extremists, supposed to be behind the kidnapper."
As the source pointed out, even Chief Ministers M Karunanidhi and S M Krishna have expressed inability to concede some demands. "For his part, Karunanidhi has expressed the impracticality of conceding Veerappan's demand for taking the Cauvery water dispute to the International Court of Justice and for making Tamil the medium of instruction up to Standard X in state schools. Likewise, Krishna has spoken about the unconstitutionality of making Tamil the second language in Karnataka, as the 15 per cent population requirement may not be met."
Official sources said that in the garb of making demands on political administrators, and the governments in the two states, demands have actually been made on the very political system. "These three demands in themselves constitute a challenge to the established system," said a senior political administrator.
"On the one hand, the demand on the Cauvery water dispute has the potential of wanting to make Tamil Nadu a separate nation state in the eyes of international law. Likewise, the medium of instruction issue is yet to be decided by the Supreme Court, where a case is pending."
According to these sources, even when Gopal meets Veerappan, "what better offer can he give the brigand, or an explanation that may convince him? On the demands and acceptance side, the governments may be reaching a dead end, if Veerappan does not get to see reason. There are larger issues involved in some demands, even granting that the release of nearly 60 prisoners in the two states does not raise the heckles in their police forces. That it may demoralise the police forces fighting militants is another matter."
Indications are that the state governments may have to think beyond conceding every demand of Veerappan, sooner than later, particularly because "there is no guarantee that there won't be any new demands from Veerappan, even if the current ones are met. The idea seems to be bring the governments to their knees and mocking at the system, and make people lose faith in them. That's a graver goal that only more militant and fundamentalist forces alone can be expected to visualise, not just an individual like Veerappan, whatever linguistic extremism he may have imbibed in the last few years."
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