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'Veerappan wanted to discuss ransom with Mani'
Sadananda R in Chamarajanagar | December 18, 2002 08:52 IST
The mystery surrounding the death of former Karnataka minister H Nagappa got deeper with one of his supporters claiming that Tamil activist Kolathur Mani was wanted by forest brigand Veerappan to discuss the ransom amount that was given to him for the release of Kannada matinee idol Rajakumar.
According to Puttaswamy, a gram panchayat member and a Janata Dal-United leader, Veerappan had given the money to Mani to distribute among the villagers who had suffered STF's "atrocities".
He also claimed that he had gone to the forest brigand's hideout twice with the official emissary of Karnataka government, Ponnachi Mahadevaswamy, to discuss the issue of Nagappa's release.
Puttaswamy, who hails from a Maratahalli village on the border of Kadumbar forest, where the brigand was suspected to be hiding for more than one month, says he spoke with the brigand himself.
"He [Veerappan] told me that he wants to meet Mani to know about Rs10 crore that he had handed over to him to distribute it among those who have suffered in the hands of the STF of both the states," Puttaswamy claimed.
Puttaswamy further claimed that in response Mani had sent message to Veerappan all that money was confiscated by inspector general of police Kempaiah, the then Karnataka STF head.
But Veerappan did not believe Mani, and wanted to know how the money fell into the hands of the STF, he said. "Veerappan told me that once I discuss these issue with Mani, I will release Nagappa."
Puttaswamy claimed that there are currently five members in the gang, including Veerappan. He said he could identity Sethukuli Govinda, a long time member of the gang, and Chandra Gounder, a diploma holder turned gangster.
He added that two more are present in the gang, out of which one was given a military uniform, while the other was in civilian clothes. He explained that Veerappan gave uniforms to those who were full-time members of the gang.
The one in uniform was called 'Chandra' and the other in the civilian dress was identified as 'Bhagya alias Pakya'.
Both Veerappan and Sethukuli Govinda had AK-47 rifles, while Chandra Gounder carried a SLR, he said. "They also have three or four country made rifles with them."
But Puttaswamy is sure that Nagappa was killed accidentally during the combing operations conducted by the STF.
More reports from Karnataka
Read about: Telgi case | H Nagappa Abduction