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Veerappan threatens to kill 50,000

Holed up in the forests between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, sandalwood smuggler Veerappan said he was ready for a "fight-unto-death" and threatened to "kill 50,000 people" if the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments failed to arrive at a negotiated settlement on his surrender.

Veerappan sent the audio cassette with the threat through a forest department driver to Karnataka Forest Minister Dr Gurupadappa Nagmarpalli on Thursday after he took captive six people, including two wildlife photographers, a researcher, and a scientist from the Indian Institute of Horticulture Research in Bangalore. He wanted the tape to be passed on to Chief Minister J H Patel.

Speaking in Tamil, Veerappan said his captives included Union and state government officials, whom he would kill if the governments used force. He said he would not release the hostages on humanitarian grounds as he had done earlier.

Veerappan said while he had given the governments of the two states three chances to decide on his surrender, they had failed to utilise the opportunity. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, he said, had failed to fulfil his promises and that if his present bid to force a surrender failed, he would take the lives of 50,000 people. He claimed the two state governments would be responsible for the deaths.

Veerappan said he would wait for positive news regarding his surrender on All India Radio, adding that he was willing to resume talks, with Nakkeraneditor R R Gopal as the mediator.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka government on Friday sought the Union government's assistance to find a permanent solution to the problem posed by Veerappan. Speaking to newspersons in Bangalore, Patel said he had discussed the matter with Prime Minister I K Gujral, who is abroad, and Union Home Minister Indrajit Gupta.

Patel said he has asked Gupta to impress upon Karunanidhi the need for a permanent solution which would include a joint operation against Veerappan.

While Gujral had promised to discuss the matter on his return, Gupta had given Patel an assurance that he would discuss the matter with Karunanidhi.


The Man Who Hunted Veerappan

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