Wednesday, August 2, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Gopal leaves for Veerappan’s den
Task force halts operations

CHENNAI, Aug 1 (PTI) —R.R Gopal, editor of Tamil bi-weekly Nakkheeran, who had been deputed as the emissary of the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments to secure the release of Kannada film star Rajkumar and others, left this evening to meet forest brigand Veerappan, the weekly said here.

The weekly said Gopal, who had rushed to Perambalur to offer condolences to the family of his colleague Selvakumar, who was murdered by some persons last night, had informed his office about his departure to meet Veerappan.

Earlier in the day official sources here said he would return this evening from Perambalur to meet Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi before leaving for the jungles.

Gopal was named as the joint emissary to meet Veerappan, who had abducted Rajkumar and three others on Sunday night from Gajanur in Erode district.

Through an audio cassette sent to Karnataka Chief Minister S.M. Krishna, Veerappan wanted an emissary to be sent immediately to discuss “some problems he was facing in the forests”.

Only after Gopal returns the demands of the brigand for the release of the captives would be known.

BANGALORE: Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments have called off “all operations” of their elite joint special task force (STF) to track forest brigand Veerappan holding Kannada superstar Rajkumar and three other hostages.

A virtual bandh-like situation continued to disrupt normal life in Bangalore as the Rapid Action Force conducted flag marches in areas affected by protests from Rajkumar’s fans. The situation was absolutely peaceful without any untoward incidents, the police said.

Barring medical stores, all shops, business establishments, banks, schools and colleges remained closed today while public and private transport vehicles were off the roads in the city where prohibitory orders have been clamped for a week.

Karnataka Chief Minister S.M. Krishna told reporters after a review meeting with top police officials that the STF operations had been called off. He termed as “canard and untrue” reports that operations were on in the forest against Veerappan.

Tamil Nadu STF chief V. Balachandran said there had been no combing operation either today or yesterday and any report in this regard was “false”. In a related development, Veerappan’s wife Muthulakshmi told reporters in Salem that her husband would not harm the actor.

Prominent film stars of the tinsel world, including the Tamil film megastar Rajnikanth have offered to meet Veerappan to secure the release of Rajkumar.

Popular Kannada film hero, Ambareesh, addressing a Press conference in the company of noted multi-lingual actress, Jayaprada, MP, said Rajnikanth had informed him that if the emissary of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, R. Gopal, persuades Veerappan, he was willing to walk into the forests to call on the latter.

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