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September 19, 2000
Postponement upsets Rajakumar's family, angers fans
M D Riti in Bangalore
When news of the Supreme Court's decision to postpone the hearing into the release of 131 Terrorist And Disruptive Activities Act detenues to October 11 first reached Puneet Rajakumar, the youngest son of Dr Rajakumar, he was unable to react.
After he had partially regained his composure, it was a weary and defeated voice that said, "Please give us time till Wednesday to react to this verdict. It's just too soon. We need time to decide what to do next."
"I am really too distressed to talk about all this now," said Puneet softly.
S R Govindu, president of the Rajakumar Fans' Association, that all-powerful pressure group in Karnataka, was far more forthcoming. Angry, and also in distress, he lashed out, "Do they think we are all sacrificial goats? If a prime minister or even an ordinary Union minister had been kidnapped, would there have been so much delay?"
"We will oppose this decision," he continued. "There will be a Bangalore bandh, perhaps a Karnataka bandh, who knows what else? Dr Rajakumar is 72 years old. How can anyone expect him to cope with living endlessly in the forest?"
Dr Rajakumar's personal physician Dr B Ramana Rao is very positive about the ageing actor's health condition and his ability to withstand a further delay. "He will not experience a physical or mental breakdown," he said. "By this time, his body would have got acclimatised to the spartan living conditions."
According to him and others, Dr Rajakumar's family did consider the possibility of further delay in his release, although they were hoping against it.
Abdul Karim, the man who filed the case against the release of the TADA detainees, was far more stoical in his response. "Justice K Puttaswamiah, who heard some of my cases in the Mysore high court, has personally advised me not to talk too much to the media about the case while the Supreme Court is seized of the matter," he said softly.
"Madam, please tell me what will happen after this?" pleaded Mahadev, a lad who works in the cinema equipment office of S A Govindaraj in Bangalore. "Will Veerappan let Annavru (Rajakumar) and Yajamanru (Govindaraj) go? They cannot possibly hold on for much longer," he said.
"Yajamanru cannot even tolerate a drizzle. While on his daily walk, a few drops of rain were all it took to make him take shelter under a tree and holler out to me for an umbrella," he continued.
Traffic plies in the streets as usual in Bangalore, so far. Buses are running normally. Shops are open. However, most have pasted pictures of Dr Rajakumar on glass panes in the belief that angry fans will not smash a surface adorned by his face. Many vehicles also sport Rajakumar's posters for the same reason. Others play anti-Veerappan cassettes.
Borrowed battalions of police have been camping in Bangalore for the past six weeks. They have been deployed in vulnerable points in the city. So far, there is no talk of schools, colleges or offices closing in anticipation of violence.
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