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September 6, 2000
Gopal rushing to Bangalore as hostage crisis drags on
Fakir Chand in Bangalore
The Karnataka-Tamil Nadu governments' emissary R R Gopal is air-dashing to Bangalore on Wednesday evening to apprise Chief Minister S M Krishna on the failure of his third mission to the jungle. Gopal was sent to secure the release of Kannada matinee idol Rajakumar from the clutches of forest brigand Veerappan. The agonising hostage crisis has already entered the 38th day.
According to state officials, Gopal will be taking the evening Indian Airlines flight from Madras. "He has been booked by that flight, and is coming with the latest video/audio cassette containing messages of Rajakumar, as well of the outlaw."
Gopal will be apprising Krishna and officials of Veerappan's refusal to let off the captives since his main demands have not been met in the wake of the Supreme Court indefinitely staying the release of his 51 associates.
As the month-long mediation efforts of the emissary reached a dead-end in the aftermath of the apex court's intervention, the negotiating strategy has apparently failed to yield any results. Krishna's trips to Madras also drew flak from the opposition parties, since his counterpart was reciprocating neither the gesture nor the sense of urgency.
With the failure of Gopal's third mission to the bandit's hideout, the state government's hands are tied down till the apex court takes up its petition next week, and disposes of the special leave petition filed by Abdul Kareem, former Karnataka police officer and father of slain sub-inspector Shakeel Ahmed, who was ambushed by the outlaw over eight years ago along with other police officers.
Only on Tuesday, Krishna had to hurriedly clarify to the media that the government was desperately waiting for Gopal's return from the jungle before exploring an alternative strategy to secure Rajakumar's release.
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