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August 16, 2000
Gopal leaves for jungle to meet Veerappan
Journalist-emissary R R Gopal left for the jungles on Wednesday night in a bid to secure the release of Kannada filmstar Dr Rajakumar and three others held hostage by the outlaw Veerappan, Gopal's office said in Madras.
'He will take some documents on the action taken by the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments so far on the demands of Veerappan,' a spokesman for Nakkeeran, the Tamil bi-weekly edited by Gopal, had said earlier in the evening.
Gopal's departure, on his second mission since the current hostage crisis began on July 30, raises hopes of an early end to the drama. The emissary met Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi in the morning for final discussions on the issue.
As per the outlaw's demands, Karnataka has ordered the release 51 Terrorist And Disruptive Activities Act detenus while Tamil Nadu has revoked the detention of four Tamil extremists under the National Security Act and dropped TADA charges against a fifth person. They are all likely to be released on bail in due course.
Meanwhile, in Bangalore, the Karnataka government asserted that the court verdict on the TADA cases against 51 suspected associates of forest brigand Veerappan will have no bearing on Gopal's mission.
Briefing reporters after a high-level committee meeting attended by Chief Minister S M Krishna to review the situation on the hostage crisis, Home Minister Mallikarjuna Kharge said the government had already conceded Veerapan's demand to drop TADA charges against the 51 detenus.
"There is no link between the court case and the mission of Gopal," he said, implying that the second mission was not being delayed by the TADA-related cases in a designated court in Mysore.
Kharge said, "we are hoping for the best (from the court). Our arguments are good. We are confident that the court will take a judicious view (on the issue of releasing the detenus)."
Asked if Veerappan would be convinced about the TADA issue since the court verdict was yet to come and it could very well go against the government, he replied, "when Veerappan has confidence, why do you have doubts?"
He said the designated court in Mysore had adjourned the case to Thursday, when it was expected to pass its orders.
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