OTHERS

Rajkumar released

BANGALORE, NOV. 15. The Kannada actor, Mr. Rajkumar, and his relative, Mr. Nagesh, were released by the brigand Veerappan early this morning and would be brought to the State capital tomorrow, the Karnataka Chief Minister, Mr. S. M. Krishna, announced here.

News of the release sparked celebrations in the capital and elsewhere in the State. The actor's ecstatic fans burst crackers and distributed sweets. There were also reports of special poojas offered at temples.

The Chief Minister told reporters that Mr. Rajkumar was undergoing a medical examination, but refused to say where the actor was camping. ``He is free and fine now. The long agonising wait is over. We are relieved.''

Earlier in the Assembly, Mr. Krishna expressed his gratitude to the people for showing patience and said the 108 days of agony had ended. ``I am grateful to the people of Karnataka, I am grateful to the Opposition parties which stood solidly by the Government in all its efforts to rescue Mr. Rajkumar and I am grateful to the Tamil Nadu Government and the Chief Minister, Mr. M. Karunanidhi, for extending full cooperation,'' he told a jubilant House.

Asked what had made Veerappan relent, Mr. Krishna said it had been a psychological warfare between the governments and the brigand. ``Perhaps he ran out of patience.'' On the mystery about the details of the release, Mr. Krishna said there was an element of mystery over the kidnapping and, naturally, there had to be an element of mystery in the release.