OTHERS

Govt. need not change strategy: CM

BANGALORE, SEPT. 2. The Karnataka Government has no alternative plan at present to obtain the release of the Kannada film actor, Mr. Rajkumar, who has been held captive by the forest brigand, Veerappan, for over a month now.

The Chief Minister, Mr. S. M. Krishna, indicated here today that there was no need for the Government to contemplate on a second line of action that should bring to an end the hostage crisis which has gripped the State from July 31. ``We have been constantly reviewing our strategy, and there is no need to change it at this stage. We are keen on an early end to the crisis.''

He said, the joint emissary of the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments, Mr. R. R. Gopal, was now holding parleys with Veerappan. The negotiations were in progress, and consequently the Government need not change its line of approach. Mr. Gopal has been in the forest for three days now, and the belief was that he would return with Mr. Rajkumar and three other hostages.

Meanwhile, the noted Tamil film actor, Mr. Rajnikanth met Mr. Krishna on Friday and discussed with him, among other things, the abduction of Mr. Rajkumar. With Veerappan being one of the fans of Mr. Rajnikanth, the view in Karnataka was that he could also play an important role in the safe release of Mr. Rajkumar.

Asked if Mr. Rajnikanth had offered any assistance, the Chief Minister said, the actor had offered help even at the very beginning of the crisis. However, with Mr. Gopal negotiating with the brigand, the Government thought it fit to keep the offer on hold.

Asked if the Government had received another cassette from Veerappan containing some more demands, the Chief Minister said the Government had received a cassette from Mr. Gopal apparently to show that discussions were in progress. There were no fresh demands in the latest cassette although it highlighted the demands made earlier and the need for the two governments to concede the demands within a specified time framework.

In Mr. Krishna's view there was nothing significant in the latest cassette. The cassette reached the State Government through the same route - from Mr. Gopal to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Mr. M. Karunanidhi, and from thereon to the State Government.

Asked if the cassette specified on the date of unveiling the statue of Thiruvalluvar in Bangalore and on the payment of compensation to the victims of the Cauvery riots in Bangalore, Mr. Krishna said Veerappan had already demanded that the statue be unveild latest by Pongal (January 14) and that the compensation to the victims should be paid in three months.

The Tamil Nadu and the Karnataka Governments had conceded the two demands, and there was no confusion in the matter.

Mr. Krishna said the two governments had picked on Mr. Gopal as the emissary to reach Veerappan since he had a direct access to the latter.

There was a crisis management group in the State headquarters to monitor the developments but it could not negotiate with Veerappan since he was not available to it. Mr. Gopal was the choice of the two governments, and there was no need to reconsider it at the present. ``He has established a direct contact with Veerappan. We have gone by the advice of the Tamil Nadu Government on the matter. We are dependant on Tamil Nadu since the kidnap occurred in that State and negotiations were in progress within the boundaries of that State''.

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