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September 7, 2000
Two Union ministers offer to end hostage crisis: PTI
Two Union ministers on Thursday said the Centre would help Karnataka and Tamil Nadu end the Dr Rajakumar hostage crisis, even as chief ministers of the two states meet in Bangalore on Friday, to firm up the course of action to secure the release of the Kannada film icon and three others, held captive by forest brigand Veerappan.
Union Minister of State for Home I D Swamy and Union Minister of State for Finance V Dhananjayan Kumar told reporters in Madras that the Centre could extend assistance to the states if a request was forthcoming from them. Swamy said the Centre was ready to send paramilitary personnel and commandos if Karnataka and Tamil Nadu sought such help to secure the release of Rajakumar.
Suggesting that the state governments opt for alternative strategies as negotiations have "failed", Kumar said the Centre would extend assistance to solve the crisis if Karnataka sought help.
As the crisis reached a dead-end with Veerappan unrelenting on his demand for the release of his associates, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and his Karnataka counterpart S M Krishna meet in Bangalore to plan their next move.
Replying to a question from reporters about an alternative strategy, Krishna said, "I do not wish to involve myself in a public dialogue on the issue."
But Karnataka Information Minister B K Chandrashekar ruled out for the moment a change in government strategy to secure the release of the hostages through negotiations.
Chandrashekhar said Krishna would hold discussions on the strategy with Karunanidhi and "maybe, in two to three days, we will know the broad directions as to what the government might want to do".
After a high-level meeting, Karnataka Home Minister Mallikarjun Kharge told reporters in Bangalore that the chief ministers would also discuss the situation arising out of the Supreme Court stay on the release of Veerappan's associates.
The Karnataka government, he said, would submit within 10 days its pleadings before the Supreme Court regarding the special leave petition filed by former police official Abdul Karim, father of a police sub-inspector killed by Veerappan, against the state's decision to drop Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act charges against Veerappan's aides.
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