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September 13, 2000
Karnataka police feel the stress
M D Riti in Bangalore
The police department in Karnataka has admitted that since trouble broke out following the abduction of Kannada film icon Dr Rajakumar by forest brigand Veerappan, its personnel have not been granted leave, except for emergencies.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi was closeted with his Karnataka counterpart S M Krishna at the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore, where police personnel had been deployed in large numbers, anticipating protests by Rajakumar's supporters or other groups. Suddenly, a constable swooned in the middle of the crowd.
He later admitted, "I have not been able to take time off since the abduction."
"I do not want to, of course, until Annavru [Rajakumar] returns. But I guess my body could not take the strain."
The police personnel have been working overtime, often without a break, for 43 days, ever since Veerappan abducted Rajakumar.
Although life in Bangalore and elsewhere in the state is almost back to normal, the plight of Rajakumar is never far from anyone's mind in Karnataka. And after the first two days of violence, the police top brass is afraid to relax its vigil, lest it be caught off-guard.
The police department admitted that since the crisis, weekly offs are off.
The department is trying to reduce the stress by rotating duties. However, they are unable to have meals on time and often do not get enough sleep at night or have to sleep at the police stations.
This has led to many flaring up quickly at minor offences.
Many festivals and Sundays have come and gone, including Gowri Ganesha, arguably the biggest festival of Karnataka, but they have been low-key affairs, and their families have had to celebrate without their men and women in khaki.
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