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September 6, 2000
Gopal returns from 'intransigent' Veerappan
Journalist-emissary R R Gopal returned to the city Wednesday after an unsuccessful third mission to the jungles to secure the release of Kannada actor Dr Rajakumar and three others from the clutches of outlaw Veerappan.
Gopal met Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi immediately on his arrival and told mediapersons later that Veerappan was adamant about the release of his 121 suspected associates in Karnataka and five Tamil extremists in Tamil Nadu before he could release Dr Rajakumar.
"I decided to come back as I felt there is no point in continuing with the talks when the matter is before the Supreme Court," Gopal said.
The bandit, he said, was aware of the apex court order staying the prisoners' release as demanded by him, but he continued to be adamant about it.
Gopal said Veerappan's intransigence had been conveyed to Karunanidhi.
Asked whether he would return to the jungles in another attempt to make the brigand see reason, he said it would depend on whether the two governments wanted him to do so.
He claimed that the outlaw was to some extent satisfied with the action taken by the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments to meet his other demands. Nor was there any fresh demand, Gopal added.
Karnataka has dropped TADA charges against 51 people still in jail for allegedly assisting the brigand, but the Mysore Designated Court's order accepting the withdrawal of charges has been challenged in the Apex Court. Their release on bail has also been stayed.
Karnataka has also decided to withdraw all other charges against these 51 as well as 70 others facing similar charges but are out on conditional bail. Tamil Nadu, for its part, has already decided to drop all charges against five ultras, besides revoking the detention of four of them under the National Security Act.
However, these decisions came to nought after the apex court stalled their release. With the fugitive making it clear that the hostages' freedom is linked to the release of prisoners, the resolution of the crisis may be indefinitely delayed.
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