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The Rediff Special/ Krishna Prasad
The Veerappan farce turns into tragedy
The only thing that can be said with some degree of certainty, besides his sheer unpredictability, is that long years of living as a recluse/ outlaw have probably seriously begun to deplete Veerappan of his mental faculties.
Kidnapping sundry policemen and photojournalists and toying with their lives is one thing, but kidnapping Muthuraj alias Rajakumar is quite another. And the fact that S M Krishna is already en route way to Chennai demonstrates how.
Just why did Veerappan pick on Rajakumar? The logical explanation is that it gives him a bigger bargaining chip with the governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. But just what is it that he wants when he has the one thing he can't surrender: freedom to do what he pleases?
Ten years ago when he ambushed four Karnataka policemen on a picnic, at least he had a whiff of a reason. They had only months earlier seized a huge quantity of sandalwood that he had hidden in the Bargur-Sathyamangala forest range in which he operates.
Since then he has routinely kidnapped and killed people, evaded the police forces of two states, managed to fool the Border Security Force, survived several chief ministers and generally shown who is the lord of the jungle, while meeting chosen reporters and editors.
Logic suggests that such a man would be happy and contented to let things be. That he wouldn't try to stir up trouble for himself. After all, he is doing what he has always been doing, maybe on a slightly reduced scale. And the police have all but given up hopes of catching him.
So, why has Veerappan targeted Rajakumar, the 1996 Dada Saheb Phalke award winner, whose fan clubs not only revere the screen icon but have turned him into a silent but potent weapon of linguistic and regional chauvinism?
Why has the desi Robin Hood, who allegedly depends on the goodwill of his kinsmen, kidnapped a man which could unleash the full might of Rajakumar's fans on Tamils who have settled down in huge numbers in the southern part of the state? And why now?
That Veerappan found Rajakumar among his hostages by accident is a possibility that can quickly be discounted. The kidnapping seems carefully planned, considering that an audio cassette of his demands has now made its way.
But that he has chosen this time of the year to attack is not without logic. The monsoon is well and truly on in the south, giving Veerappan the cover he needs to hoodwink the police and others who will soon begin chasing him.
It has been asked before, but the more interesting question to ask at this juncture when few details are available is: why do Veerappan's most breath-taking assaults always happen when the Congress and the DMK are in power?
While the people of two states hope for a happy ending to this tug of war between hero and villain, it is clear events will follow a familiar of action. A fresh manhunt will be launched, and after a few days, media and police interest will evaporate. And things will return to normal.
Will the cops catch Veerappan at all? In the tragedy that the Veerappan farce has become, it is useful to turn to comedy. Shortly before he passed away last year, Y N Krishnamurthy, the redoubtable Kannada humorist, wrote the clincher.
"The police are sure to catch up with Veerappan one day because age is sure to catch up with him some day."
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