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August 21, 2000
TNLA ultras fear freedom, prefer jail
N Sathiya Moorthy in Madras
The Tamil Nadu government is ready to let them secure bail, but the five Tamil Nadu Liberation Army cadres in the state's prisons would not apply for the same. They want freedom, but seem to fear for their lives outside prison.
And that may be delaying the negotiations for the release of kidnapped Kannada film star Dr Rajakumar by forest brigand Veerappan and his TNLA associates. The brigand had demanded the release of the five ultras.
According to informed sources, the five TNLA cadres apprehend a danger to their lives after Dr Rajakumar is freed. They are said to have concluded that the police forces of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka would swoop down on Veerappan's hideout with a vengeance once the filmstar is freed.
Apart from Veerappan and his close aide Sethukkuli Govindan, the five cadres would be the only ones identifiable in the group. The other TNLA men, already with Veerappan, covered their faces while appearing even before the journalist-emissary R R Gopal.
Secondly, sources refer to the situation in Karnataka, where even two years after the court granted bail to 10 of the 51 Terrorist And Disruptive Activities Act detenus, they have not been able to get two sureties for Rs 50,000 each.
So, even if the Tamil Nadu government would not oppose their bail applications, raising the sureties would pose a problem for the five, it is surmised.
As of now, the Tamil Nadu government is yet to decide how the swapping will take place. Indications are that the associate editor of Nakkeeran, A Kamaraj, will take them into the forest and hand them over to Gopal. Also, the five are yet to be formally discharged by the courts.
Much depends on the negotiating skills of Nakkeeran editor R R Gopal, the only person outside Veerappan's immediate circle who has any influence on him and who is also the only 'outsider' now known to the brigand.
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