Today's Paper

DVAC to probe 'ransom' for Rajkumar release

CHENNAI APRIL 9. While lashing out at the DMK for mocking at the Special Task Force and its performance, the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, today told the Assembly that she had ordered the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption to probe the matter relating to "payment of a ransom" for securing the release of the Kannada actor, Rajkumar, held captive by the forest brigand, Veerappan, in 2000.

Replying to the demands for grants for the Police department, Ms. Jayalalithaa had a dig at the DMK MLAs, J. Anbazhagan and Velu, who, she said, had posed "derisive questions" what the STF, formed to nab Veerappan, had done so far and on the Government's expenditure on the special unit. Listing the achievements of the elite commando unit after she took charge, she said the force was streamlined in June 2001, following which exercise the poacher-turned-sandalwood smuggler ran away from Tamil Nadu forests to the Karnataka side. Paying tributes to the STF, Ms. Jayalalithaa said it was due to the valour and approach of the special unit that the jungle bandit was chased away from Tamil Nadu and effectively prevented from entering the State again. Extra expenditure was incurred on the STF as the unit had displayed greater involvement and made more efforts to catch the outlaw. The efforts paid dividends. The only remaining task was catching Veerappan. "That will also be accomplished soon", she declared amidst thumping of desks by the Treasury Benches.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said Veerappan was able to kidnap Rajkumar from Tamil Nadu as it was the DMK, which was ruling the State then; whereas the former Karnataka Minister, H. Nagappa, was abducted from that State. Veerappan was not able to indulge in kidnappings in Tamil Nadu now as the AIADMK was in power.

Pointing out that she had answered the legislators' queries, Ms. Jayalalithaa said it was now her turn to pose questions. Referring to the book written by the former Karnataka Director-General of Police, C. Dinakar, Veerappan's prize catch: Rajkumar, she asked "how much ransom was handed over to the then Chief Minister, M. Karunanidhi" at his residence for securing the safe relase of the filmstar. "Of the ransom, how much did Karunanidhi keep for himself? How much was given to Veerappan?", she asked and said Mr. Velu should answer the questions. The book brought to light the "criminal activities" of Mr. Karunanidhi in association with those persons who were called `emissaries' (who went inside the jungle). The DVAC would investigate the matter against Mr. Karunanidhi and the probe would be expedited.