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Did Veerappan kill Nagappa?
Sadananda R in Chamarajnagar |
December 09, 2002 16:24 IST
Former minister H Nagappa, whose body was found on Sunday, is the first hostage to have died while in Veerappan's custody. Though the dreaded brigand has killed more than 126 people, he has never harmed any of his hostages.
The brigand is reported to have told his hostages that he only kills policemen because they try to harm him. Two nature photographers, abducted in 1997 along with eight others, later brought out a book about their experience.
Veerappan's abduction spree started in 1994 with the abduction of Tamil Nadu Deputy Superintendent of Police Chidambaram. The Special Task Force, however, managed to free the police officer.
All the other hostages were freed after prolonged negotiations. Most of his hostages said Veerappan had abducted them for ransom.
Abducting Kannada film actor Rajakumar has been Veerappan's most profitable operation, former Karnataka deputy general of police C Dinkar has claimed in his book Veerappan's prize catch: Rajkumar. The actor was released after 108 days in captivity, following prolonged negotiations.
However, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments deny any payments were ever made to Veerappan.
Going by this track record, the possibility of Veerappan having killed Nagappa seem remote.
Though Veerappan had threatened to kill Nagappa, who he called his number one enemy, the general feeling is that the latter was taken hostage only to get Kolathur Mani freed. Being an old man, Nagappa would have been a liability to the forest brigand, people say.
On the other hand, the increased activities of the Tamil Nadu STF on the Karnataka border further strengthen Veerappan's claim of Nagappa having died when his gang got involved in an encounter with a Tamil Nadu STF team.
Janata Dal (United) activists, who had managed to establish contact with Veerappan, allege that the Tamil Nadu police started harassing them soon after Nagappa's abduction, following them whenever they tried contacting the brigand.
They also allege that JD(U) Kollegal block leader Ponnachi Mahadevaswamy's relatives, who live in villages adjacent to the forests frequented by the brigand, were questioned by the Tamil Nadu police. The Karnataka government took no notice of these activities, they claimed.
Angst against the ruling party is clear. Angry villagers refused to let Animal Husbandry Minister M Mahadev see Nagappa's body. The mob also prevented journalists from entering Ramapura where the body was found.
Nagappa's abduction: Complete Coverage