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August 24, 2000
TN, Karnataka CMs to meet again: PTI
The chief ministers of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka will hold talks in Madras on Friday on the latest message brought by journalist-emissary R R Gopal from outlaw Veerappan in response to the action taken on his demands to secure the release of Kannada thespian Dr Rajakumar and three other hostages held in the jungles since July 30.
Gopal, who returned to the jungles Thursday morning from his second mission to the forests, handed over two video cassettes to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and briefed him for over two and a half hours on his negotiations with the outlaw.
The cassettes are believed to contain Veerappan's reply to the steps taken by the two governments in compliance with his various demands, but the contents were not made known.
Apart from disclosing that Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna would arrive in Madras Friday, Gopal had nothing to say.
There was no official briefing and it could not be ascertained if any new issue warranting a discussion between the chief ministers had emerged. So far, the modalities for releasing five Tamil extremists jailed in Tamil Nadu and 51 held under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (prevention) Act in Karnataka seemed to be the main outstanding issue delaying resolution of the crisis.
For Krishna, his proposed visit will be the fourth airdash to Madras since the crisis broke out. He had flown to Madras on July 31, August 6 and 11 to discuss the issue at various stages.
Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu government appeared in no hurry to seek permission from the respective courts to drop all charges against the five extremists.
They have refused to seek bail, as offered by the government as a simple means of ensuring their early release, forcing the government to agree to withdraw all cases. Orders for this are, however, yet to be passed,
Karnataka, for its part, has dropped TADA charges against 51 prisoners in the state. Action is on to release them on bail. Their release is another demand of Veerappan.
Meanwhile, Venkatesan, one of the five ultras, against whom the Tamil Nadu government has already withdrawn TADA charges, was brought to the designated court here for remand extension.
As he is still facing charges under Indian Penal Code and other normal provisions, the court extended his remand, along with that of eight other co-accused, till September 13.
Before leaving court, Venkatesan said he wanted all charges against him to be dropped. His lawyer, R Sankarasubbu, speaking to reporters, denied reports that Venkatesan was against going into the jungles on his release.
The government has already revoked the detention of the other four, Ponnivalavan, Sathyamurthy, Manikandan and Muthukumar, who are also facing numerous cases.
Venkatesan and Ponnivalavan belong to the Tamil Nadu Liberation Army, while the other three belong to the Tamil National Retrieval Troops. Both outfits are now believed to be close to the Veerappan gang.
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