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August 16, 2000
Bomb hoax calls spread fear in Bangalore
Two hoax bomb calls Wednesday jolted Bangalore, already reeling under a hostage crisis following the abduction of a top movie star, police said.
"There have been a couple of bomb threats in the city today. Our anti-sabotage teams have found them to be false," a statement issued by Commissioner of Police T Madiyal said.
"We request the public to remain calm and not give importance to rumours," the statement said.
The threats were received by two schools in the city, a police spokesman said.
The threats came two days after schools reopened following ethnic tensions in the state of Karnataka triggered by the abduction of top movie star Dr Rajakumar by India's most wanted bandit Veerappan.
Veerappan took the star and three of his relatives hostage from the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu more than two weeks ago.
Dr Rajakumar's abduction led to violence by his fans and fuelled ethnic tensions in Bangalore, the capital of the actor's home state.
The 74-year-old actor belongs to Karnataka's dominant Kannadiga community, while Veerappan, 53, is a Tamil.
R R Gopal, official mediator of the crisis, is slated to go back into the jungles, where Dr Rajakumar is being held hostage, to begin a second round of negotiations with Veerappan.
Veerappan, wanted for more than 100 murders, including the killings of 32 police personnel, listed new demands last week. The state governments are due to respond to them through Gopal.
Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna, said Gopal "will leave soon" and hoped the negotiations would succeed though there were "no visible" developments.
"Karnataka is working on a set of strategies in close co-ordination with Tamil Nadu on the hostage crisis and we hope they will work," Krishna told reporters here.
He ruled out "new options" but said the government kept an "open mind" on suggestions from the people on the steps it should initiate to deal with Veerappan.
"Any suggestion in this regard can only be considered at a later stage and not at this critical juncture since securing the hostages' release is the top most priority," he said.
The Tamil Nadu administration is planning to free five jailed militants in a bid to speed up the release.
The release of the five militants was among the four new demands put forward by the bandits last week.
Two of the militants belong to the Tamil National Liberation Army and the others to the Tamil National Retrieval Force, which was banned after the May 1991 assassination of former premier Rajiv Gandhi in Tamil Nadu.
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