Rediff Navigator News

Veerappan delays surrender; releases hostages

The prospects of sandalwood smuggler Veerappan's surrender appeared to have receded for the time being with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's announcement that the elusive bandit had sought "some more time" to make up his mind.

Karunanidhi was addressing the media after the eight Karnataka forest personnel, whom Veerappan released on Sunday evening, were handed over to him at the state secretariat in Madras. The chief minister said the governments of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka stood by their terms for his surrender and it was up to the outlaw to end his 20-year-long life as an outlaw.

Evading a direct reply on whether there was a hitch in the surrender and whether Veerappan had made any fresh demands, the CM said he could not say anything before viewing the video cassette brought by R R Gopal, the official emissary.

"There were no signs of Gopal undertaking a fresh mission in the absence of any fresh positive move on Veerappan's part," he added.

The eight hostages were handed over to Karunanidhi by Gopal, editor of the Tamil weekly, Nakkeeran. They had spent 44 days in captivity.

The chief minister said Gopal was yet to give him the video cassette sent by Veerappan. "It is likely to be given to me in one or two days," he added.

Expressing the hope that Veerappan would ultimately decide to surrender without any conditions, he said: "Though the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments had rejected his demand for an amnesty, we stand by the list of suggestions put forth in the statement signed by the home secretaries of the two governments."

He rejected former chief minister Jayalalitha Jayaram's allegation that the state government was giving special treatment to a hardcore criminal like Veerappan.

Karunanidhi recalled the efforts made by Jayaprakash Narayan to ensure the surrender of Chambal Valley dacoits in the late 1970s and the steps taken by the Madhya Pradesh government to facilitate the surrender of Phoolan Devi. "Were they not considered hardcore criminals at that point of time?" he asked.

He said Veerappan's willingness to surrender after being on the run for more than 20 years was welcome. "This is a sign of success. We should not think we will achieve success only if we capture him," the CM added.

Asked why the Special Task Force of the two governments could not capture Veerappan after a decade-long manhunt, the chief minister said some police personnel had harassed -- including sexually -- villagers, especially Veerappan's relatives. "I have evidence to prove this and we are probing the activities of these personnel," he said.

Karunanidhi declined to comment on the statement issued by former Tamil Nadu director-general of police W I Dawaram, who once led the STF operations, that the state government should not set up a special camp for Veerappan. "Those who could not catch Veerappan are now feeling jealous of the fact that we are about to do it," he said.

Asked whether such a special camp could have legal status, he said the two home secretaries had indicated in their statement that the special camp would be under the surveillance of the state police and jail authorities.

He pointed out that Sri Lankan militants belonging to the LTTE and other groups had been interned at the Tipu Mahal special camp in Vellore and the Puzhal special camp on the outskirts of Madras.

If Veerappan chooses to surrender, the time and place will be known only when Gopal briefs the chief minister on his talks with the bandit for the last three days.

Veerappan kidnapped 10 Karnataka forest personnel on July 12 and immediately set free a driver with an audio cassette addressed to Karunanidhi and his Karnataka counterpart, J H Patel, listing his demands which included an amnesty.

With Veerappan reposing faith only in the Tamil Nadu government, the Karnataka government sought Karunanidhi's help to resolve the crisis.

The two governments, after frantically trying to establish contact with the brigand, chose Gopal, who had videotaped Veerappan's interview twice earlier, as its emissary.

Gopal, who agreed to negotiate with Veerappan on behalf of the two governments, set out for the forests on July 20 and followed it up with a second visit on August 3. He began his third mission on August 20.

Gopal elated with success; hostages recount saga
Karnataka CM thanks Karunanidhi, Gopal

Was Veerappan paid Rs 5 million?
Gopal leaves on his third mission
Karnataka, TN agree to Veerappan offer of surrender

Tell us what you think of this report

Home | News | Business | Cricket | Movies | Chat
Travel |Life/Style | Freedom | Infotech

Copyright 1997 Rediff On The Net
All rights reserved