|HOME | NEWS | THE RAJAKUMAR ABDUCTION | REPORT|
August 16, 2000
Gopal's departure may be delayed
N Sathiya Moorthy in Madras
The forest-ward departure of emissary and Nakkeeran editor R R Gopal, negotiating the release of Kannada film icon Dr Rajakumar, with forest brigand Veerappan may be delayed.
It now depends on the verdict of the Mysore court in Karnataka, hearing the state government's petition for withdrawal of Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act cases against 51 detainees, whose freedom was among the 14 demands made by Veerappan, for releasing Rajakumar.
Gopal was expected to leave for Veerappan territory by Wednesday or Thursday, along with relevant official papers from the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments, as proof of their meeting some demands. Included was the release order of the 51 detainees in Karnataka and five in Tamil Nadu.
While the Tamil Nadu government has moved the Bhavani court in Erode district for permission to withdraw the cases against the five, where smooth sailing is expected, it may not be so in Mysore.
According to reports from Karnataka, Abdul Karim, father of Shakeel Ahmed, a sub-inspector of police killed by Veerappan and company in 1992, has moved the Mysore court, challenging the state government's petition seeking permission to withdraw the cases against the 51 detainees.
The court has to issue a notice to the four advocates representing the 51 accused and to the public prosecutor, who had originally sought the judge's permission to withdraw the cases, in writing.
According to the Criminal Procedure Code, no case in which a chargesheet has been filed can be withdrawn without prior permission from the trial court. The CrPC also provides for the trial court to intercede even at the stage of investigations, based on the first information report and case diaries of the investigating officer, and pass appropriate orders, if it felt the need for speeding up the process, or for following a particular line of probe.
"That being the case, the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu government cannot free the detainees named by Veerappan, without prior court permission," said a senior police official in Madras.
"Any such move can be construed as contempt of court and the state government, down to the investigating officer and jail superintendent, could be held responsible."
Sources refer to the possibility of discharge petitions in such cases being challenged, as in Mysore. "Any unilateral decision of the two governments could have only complicated matters, if reference had not been made to the courts, for permission to withdraw the cases. Someone like Karim could still have moved the courts, challenging the government order. Technically, any final order by the courts, if it involved restoration of status quo ante, and trial against the freed accused, would have become impossible, after they had been enlarged to freedom."
Karim, at the very least, is expected to challenge the state government's move. Even in 1997, when the Karnataka government was believed to be contemplating amnesty for Veerappan, for him releasing nine kidnapped state officials, Karim had threatened court action.
The widow of Harikrishna, a senior police official killed by Veerappan, had expressed similar sentiments.
Karim's son was among 23 personnel of the Special Task Force of police forces from the two states, who were ambushed by Veerappan and company in the Menyam forest range of M M Hills, the abode of the brigand at that time.
Simon, believed to be the mastermind behind the ambush, is among the 51 TADA detainees.
"We are keeping our fingers crossed on the timing of Gopal's departure for the jungle," said the official. "It will depend on orders of the Mysore court and follow-up action that the Karnataka government may have to take, and time available for it.''
Accordingly, the government may not have much time for releasing the detainees if the trial court dismissed Karim's petition, before the latter could move an appellate court.
"That could also imply that the government may have gone back on its stand, to release the detainees simultaneously with Veerappan freeing Rajakumar and three others.''
If the governments hold the detainees back after a court has ordered their release, as part of negotiations, it will tantamount to contempt of court again. It could also imply illegal detention without valid reason, which again is punishable under law. Alternatively, the state government may run the risk of further delay if Karim or any other kin of a Veerappan victim or even a public personality, moves the high court, pending execution of the trial court order.
The position will not be much different if the high court accepted Karim's petition, and the government found it difficult to carry out the order, if the 51 detainees had been released in the meantime.
However, this at least is only a hypothetical situation, said a lawyer.
"Only after knowing the final position can we decide on Gopal's departure date," said an official.
Sources also refereed to Karnataka home minister Mallikarjuna Khagre's denial that the state government had approached the Centre for help to obtain Rajakumar's release. "Obviously, he was referring to the possibility of involving central forces, including the army," said the source, adding, "It's time the state governments too thought about alternatives, particularly since Veerappan has been introducing more demands, each one more impractical than the other."
While conceding that Veerappan may be the lord of all he surveyed in a 6000-square km area of dense forests in the western ghats, the source also referred to the less publicised meetings of high-level police officials in Tamil Nadu, who had once served in Veerappan's territory, particularly with the STF. "They have been reading the maps and also the terrain, though they also know, it's of no use now, particularly when Rajakumar is held hostage. It's not only risky, but also impractical."
Simultaenously, he referred to rumours of Rajakumar's fans from Karnataka arriving at the Sathyamangalam forest, to find their way to Veerappan's hideout, if only to plead with the brigand to free the star. "The police lost no time in denying the rumours, which could have sent wrong signals to Veerappan and those with him.''
ASTROLOGY | NEWSLINKS | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL BOOKINGS
AIR/RAIL | WEDDING | ROMANCE | WEATHER | WOMEN | E-CARDS | EDUCATION
HOMEPAGES | FREE MESSENGER | FREE EMAIL | CONTESTS | FEEDBACK