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Veerappan's deadline ends, but Mani still not out
The 12-day deadline set by bandit Veerappan to send Tamil activist Kolathur Mani as emissary ended on Saturday even as the government's efforts to speed up efforts to end the Nagappa hostage crisis hit a road block with Mani's release on bail hanging in balance.
Hearing two bail applications filed by Mani, First Class Judicial Magistrate Nataraja C Dhollappannavar ruled that he did not have powers to grant bail in cases concerning supply of weapons and explosives.
The magistrate extended Mani's judicial custody in connection with the two cases and adjourned the hearing to December 13.
Defence counsel T Prakash said he would withdraw the bail applications and on December two move fresh ones before a sessions court in Mysore.
Unless Mani secures bail in all the cases pending against him, he cannot set out on his negotiation mission.
The state cabinet last week said it would consider withdrawing cases booked against Mani, but has so far not made any move towards this end. The state government is under pressure from Nagappa's family members, opposition parties and several seers to send Mani to the forest as early possible to end the 98-day-old hostage crisis.
Saturday's development would slow down the government's efforts to set the stage for negotiations with the outlaw, who has adopted a tough stance and, in the fifth cassette, made it clear that he would not settle for any emissary other than Mani.
The high power committee, constituted under the chairmanship of Karnataka Home Minister Mallikarjun Kharge to monitor the abduction crisis, met to review the situation.
In view of the outlaw's deadline, the government has been airing an appeal by Minister for Agro Processed Foods Raju Gowda pleading with the bandit for extension of the deadline and the safety of the hostage, Kharge said.
The state government was not considering any alternative emissary, Kharge said ruling out sending Tamil leader Shanmuga Somasundaram, who had helped out during Kannada actor Rajakumar's abduction, to meet the bandit.
Kharge denied that Mani has set terms for taking up the mediatory mission, including withdrawal of cases filed against him. "He agreed to go as emissary on humanitarian grounds," he said.