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September 4, 2000
We never anticipated this: Puneet Rajakumar
M D Riti in Bangalore
They never imagined that it could go on for so long. "In fact, we never imagined that such a thing could happen at all," says Puneet Rajakumar, the youngest son of abducted Kannada film star Dr Rajakumar.
"A year ago, when the intelligence wing of the Karnataka police warned us that Veerappan might abduct my father, I found the suggestion rather absurd," he added.
It was not, explains Puneet, that they were being either arrogant or overconfident, but just that Dr Rajakumar is known to be a very good-hearted man with no enemies. "Even at home, he never scolds us or anyone else," reveals Puneet. "Nor has he knowingly hurt anyone's feelings. We did not think anyone would ever think of kidnapping him," he admits.
Now, as the family waits endlessly for Dr Rajakumar's release, they fear for his health and wellbeing. "We are all fine, and coping very well with the stress," Puneet told rediff.com. "But we have no clue what will happen next," he said.
When Puneet first heard about the abduction, he thought it was a bad dream. He was woken up in the very early hours, as soon as his mother returned to Bangalore with Veerappan's first cassette to S M Krishna, on July 31.
"At first, I thought of jumping into my jeep and rushing straight into the forest to see if I could either get my father out or stay back there with him," he says, a month-long growth of beard shadowing his normally clean-shaven cheeks. "I did not tell my family about this. They would worry knowing how impetuous I can be sometimes," he added.
Does Puneet blame the Karnataka government for not having provided his father with round-the-clock security, instead of asking him to alert them whenever he wanted to visit Gajanur?
"I don't know whether a couple of armed policemen would have made much of a difference," he says rather honestly. "On the other hand, it might have resulted in an exchange of fire and who knows what the outcome of that would have been? If we had realised how serious the threat was, we would have never let him go to Gajanur in the way in which he did."
Is the family hopeful of Dr Rajakumar's early return? "Of course, we are," says Puneet. "The whole of Karnataka is praying for this. The power of their collective wish will prevail. I think we are so fortunate to me the children of such a great and much-loved man." And what does Puneet himself wish for most fervently, at this moment? "I want to see my father, face-to-face, this minute," he says promptly.
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