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September 19, 2000
SC decision leaves TN govt cluelessN Sathiya Moorthy in Madras
On any other day, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi would stay put in the Secretariat, the administrative headquarters of the state government, till 1.30 pm, or even later. On Tuesday, however, when the Supreme Court's adjournment of the case relating to Veerappan's associates became known, he left for home by noon. And he had no comments to offer journalists.
Naturally so. The Tamil Nadu government is clueless about proceeding further in the matter. Brigand Veerappan and his Tamil militant associates are firm on the release of their associates before freeing kidnapped Kannada film icon Rajakumar. The Supreme Court case has now come in the way, and it cannot move either way, without knowing the final verdict.
For the present, the state government is in no mood to risk police action. As sources point out, Veerappan has thus far kept his word of not harming Rajakumar. Journalist-emissary Nakkeeran Gopal has also returned with the impression that Rajakumar is as comfortable and confident as can be under the circumstances. The governments, both in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, do not want to provoke Veerappan, thus. Not certainly until Rajakumar is freed.
However, significance is attached to a meeting attended by senior Intelligence Bureau officials in Madras on Monday. The Veerappan issue is believed to have come up for mention, among other things. It was believed to have been left at that, it is learnt. As pointed out, intelligence agencies of the IB kind have little to offer by way of inputs, or direct action. It's outside the realm of their routine duties, unless specifically asked to provide logistical intelligence of the kind that may be required.
For all this, however, the Supreme Court direction was not totally unexpected. Going by the routine nature of court proceedings, the division bench hearing the case was not expected to dispose of the case, either way, after just one sitting, when only preliminaries would have been covered -- if at all.
That much also became clear by Monday evening, when Karunanidhi told newsmen that Gopal would go on a fourth-leg mission later in the week, to brief Veerappan on the court proceedings. The decision to send Gopal again was taken at a meeting Karunanidhi had with visiting Karnataka Home Minister Mallikarjun Kharge, in Madras. Kharge is believed to have briefed his chief minister, S M Krishna, before the latter was scheduled to meet Union Home Minister L K Advani in New Delhi, on Tuesday.
Indications are that Karunanidhi and Krishna may now consider meeting Prime Minister A B Vajpayee and also Advani, together or separately, to brief them on the various steps taken by the two states, including their approach to the pending court cases. The two chief ministers had said as much, after their meeting in Bangalore last fortnight.
With Vajpayee set to return after a successful US visit later in the day, Krishna too is likely to seek an appointment with the prime minister, during his three-day stay in Delhi, to attend the Planning Commission meeting, it is said. Any decision by Karunanidhi to meet Vajpayee may follow Krishna's Delhi visit, and their combined evaluation of the Centre's reaction to their current predicament.
However, the Tamil Nadu government's concern for the continued safety of Tamils in Karnataka has heightened, with the delay in Rajakumar's release. Karunanidhi is believed to have taken up the issue with Kharge at the meeting. "I have asked Krishna to ensure the safety of the Tamils, and he has promised to do the needful," Karunanidhi said on Monday. To that end, both state governments are keeping their fingers crossed, what with peripheral pan-Tamil groups in Tamil Nadu too, vowing retaliation if the Tamils in Karnataka are hurt.
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