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August 28, 2000
Veerappan's associates get conditional bail
Fakir Chand in Mysore
Fiftyone alleged associates of forest brigand Veerappan, who have been languishing in the Mysore jail for over seven years as detainees under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, have been granted conditional bail by the Mysore district and sessions court on Monday, the 29th day of the hostage crisis.
The orders were passed by principal judge Justice M S Rajendra Prasad after the bail applications were moved earlier in the day by lawyers of the accused, led by Venu Gopal.
Reading out the two-page order, Prasad has set the statutory terms of seeking surety from each of the accused at Rs 10,000, or a bond of Rs 20,000 to set them free with a rider that "they will report to this court as and when summoned at a later date".
When the court re-assembled for hearing the judgement, lawyers of former director general of police Abdul Kareem, and father of slain sub-inspector Shakeel Ahmed, who was ambushed by Veerappan in 1993, brought to the notice of the judge that the Supreme Court would take up his (Kareem's) special leave petition on Tuesday, as directed by the Chief Justice of India.
A fax message from Kareem's lawyer Chava Badri Nath Babu was submitted to the court by advocates S Umesh and S K Manjunath for consideration and reserving the orders on the bail applications moved by the accused.
The petition was filed against the dismissal of Kareem's case by the designated TADA court in Mysore on August 17, 2000, which allowed the Karnataka government to withdraw charges against the 51 detainees.
Prasad, however, over-ruled the objections of Kareem's lawyers in issuing the orders, stating that: "as there is no directive from the Supreme Court to this court on the bail applications' plea nor a stay against issuing orders, this court cannot entertain the objections. Since there was no direct linkage between the petition and the bail plea heard earlier in the day, the judge refused to take cognisance of points raised by Kareem's lawyers.
With the granting of bail, paving way for the conditional freedom of the detainees, the decks have been cleared for their release. With this, all 121 detainees, including the 70 accomplices of the outlaw who were granted bail earlier, are now free to return to the jungles, as demanded by Veerappan for releasing Kannada matinee idol Dr Rajakumar and three others, who have been held captive by him in the Iggalur-Satyamangalam forest range of Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border.
Karim told rediff.com, "What have I to say. My mouth has been shut by the police authorities. Since the day Veerappan abducted Rajkumar, I have been detained by the police. You can write that I am under police custody since then.''
His elder son and Shakeel's brother Jameel Ahmed was at his side.
Armed with a facsimile copy of the court's order, government emissary R R Gopal is set to convince Veerappan in his lair that the government and the courts have fulfilled one of his main demands. Gopal is scheduled to leave for the forest later in the night.
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