October 18, 2000


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'Govindraj feels claustrophobic in his own room'

They were pruning the bushes, watering the patches of grass and washing down the huge buses frenetically soon after dawn. This was's first inkling at dawn Tuesday that Rajakumar's son-in-law S A Govindaraj had already reached Bangalore. "Yajamanru (boss) might come any time to check how we have maintained the building and equipment," yelled Mahadev, the young man who takes care of the house in Sadashivanagar in which Govindaraj keeps his filming equipment and parks the buses that transport them.

However, Govindaraj's doctor reveals that Mahadev's yajamanru is hardly likely to visit all his business offices, leave alone start running them again, for a while more. He is safely ensconced in a VIP room at the five-star Mallya Hospital in the centre of Bangalore, in which his sister Parvathamma (Rajakumar's wife) spent almost a week recently. Govindaraj, who returned to on Tuesday yesterday after being released from the jungles by Veerappan, is being put through a battery of medical tests as well as some treatment for high blood pressure. He had told the media that he was too weak to speak to them in length, and is now completely off limits to everyone except his family, his doctors and the senior-most of political leaders and police officers.

M D Riti spoke to Dr B Ramana Rao , the family physician of the entire Rajakumar family, on Govindaraj's health as well as his reports on the wellbeing of his famous father-in-law.

How is Govindaraj now?

He is very tired. I have admitted him in hospital because he has palpitation, severe weakness, a little sweating. He is now undergoing all medical investigations to find out the cause of the palpitation. His blood pressure is very very high too.

How high?

This morning, it was 124 by 190. He has never recorded such high blood pressure in his lifetime. I have given him medicine to immediately bring it down. But that is not enough. We should definitely look further and find out more about why this has happened.

What tests is he undergoing?

For example, echo cardiograph, a stress ECG, ultrasound, complete blood profile and cardiac enzymes. Things to make sure that all his vital organs are working well.

Has he been on his medication for blood pressure all this time?

One good news that he has given is that he has been taking his medicine regularly, and that he has received whatever medicines we have been sending. There has been no break in the medication.

Did Veerappan release him because of his ill-health?

Yes. Veerappan personally told him that the first thing he should do is to go to his doctor and get himself checked to find out why he is getting chest pain. He apparently collapsed four times over the past 10 days with dizziness and chest pain. Everyone in Veerappan's camp got really worried about him.

Why do you think he collapsed?

I think he would have collapsed because of chest pain, which is a strain on the heart because of very high blood pressure. The medication was obviously not enough. He was taking the regular dosage that I had kept him on here. He was taking this on my advice through All India Radio and the emissaries. But dosages are always adjusted according to the circumstances, situations and the stress factors. We keep checking a patient's pressure and altering dosages. We could not do this now as he was away.

You had told last month that you expect Govindaraj's blood pressure to have completely come back to normal with all that peaceful forest living, as his stress and hypertension was all business and city-living related.

I think what happened was that suddenly they all got very afraid that they would never get out of the forest and see their families again. This would have caused his blood pressure to soar. A sudden fear of death can throw your body out of gear.

What about his diabetes: has it worsened?

He is mildly diabetic, not uncontrolled. Since he kept himself so fit, walking and exercising all through his life, his diabetes has never given him any trouble. He has never even been on medication for diabetes.

How long do you think it will take Govindaraj to get back to normal?

Mental trauma takes a long time to go away. It may take anything from one month to two or three to come back to normal. That is what we are all thinking. Even last night, he suddenly jumped out of bed in some kind of delirium. And now he finds it so difficult to lie down in a closed room. Even in his hospital room, for example, he suddenly feels claustrophobic and as if he has been locked up. We expected this, though. He almost felt like running out of his house into some park where he could lie down. He has been in the open all the time for the past two and a half months almost. Suddenly, he finds himself in his own room surrounded by four walls: naturally he feels claustrophobic.

How long will you keep him in hospital?

A couple of days. He is basically there to make sure that everything is all right and that he can get back to normal.

Is he on any medical equipment in the hospital?

Not at all. Not even a needle or a drip. He walked into the hospital yesterday, and he will walk out by himself very soon.

He is not undergoing any kind of medical treatment for any active ailments, then.

No, only for hypertension, which I am sure we can control with medication in a matter of two or three days.

After that, will you advise him two or three weeks of rest, or can he get back to normal life and running all his businesses?

The best medicine for a person in this situation is to be with his family -- his wife, his children and those who are near and dear to him -- not doctors or medicines. Medicines will be there of course, but the best medicine for him would be to have his loved ones around him. That will bring him back to normal very quickly and restore his own self-confidence.

Why is he in a private room and barred all visitors?

He is there basically to bring down his hypertension. If I keep allowing people inside, they like to talk about so many things, which will take him backwards. I want him to go forward.

What is the reason for his looking so weak?

He is so weak that he just cannot even stand up straight. He has a lot of nutritional deficiencies, plus millions of insect bites all over his body.

What treatment are you giving him for the insect bites?

Only the usual treatment for skin allergy and insect bites.

Is he malnourished? Was he fed inadequately? Or was it the wrong type of food?

He has been fed adequately, but not with the right type of food. It's the same thing every day. He was just having sambar and rice. That was not the right food at all for him. No meat, no milk, no curds no eggs, only rice and sambar . That would have made him feel weak and malnourished.

What did Govindaraj tell you about Rajakumar's state of health?

He says that he is fine, even though he is weak, tired and disappointed. He is waiting eagerly for some good news, for something to break so that he can come back.

What about his knee and his hypertension?

Govindaraj would not know about his hypertension. Nobody is checking his blood pressure in the jungle, right?

But did he tell you any symptoms that Rajakumar has that are indicative of hypertension?

It is difficult to say. But he says that his knees are paining badly, especially his right knee. Otherwise, no dangerous symptoms that I have heard from Govindaraj.

Do you anticipate that after all the strain to his knee now, Rajakumar too might have to undergo the kind of knee surgery that Vajpayee underwent?

Yes, he might have to. But first, let him come back. Then we will definitely investigate him properly and take a decision.

How is Parvathamma's state of health now?

Currently, she is very disappointed. Fortunately, there is no major health setback. Her hypertension and sugar problem are both fluctuating. I am monitoring them very closely. I visit her four times a day, so we are able to keep them under control.

The return of her brother without her husband has not caused her any kind of setback?

Initially, she was very very disappointed. She broke down, she was crying. Then the happiness that her brother, who is also her son-in-law, came back, took over. Now she is all right. Again, the waiting game has begun. Again we are waiting.

What else did Govindaraj tell you about Rajakumar's physical and mental wellbeing?

Nothing else that we have not already heard. He is very active, does his yoga, all his exercises. That is the only thing keeping him fit. He keeps thinking of all of us. He listens to the radio, and remembers everything perfectly. The only entertainment for them is the birds chirping all the time. Apparently, they talk about all the things in Bangalore whenever they hear us being mentioned on the radio.

Is Rajakumar on any medication now?

Only for his blood pressure.

Is he able to walk all those kilometres with Veerappan?

Oh yes, apparently he was not as weak as Govind Anna is.

He has never collapsed or has any kind of physical or mental breakdown so far?

Absolutely no way!

The Rajakumar Abduction: complete coverage
The saga of Veerappan

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