KARNATAKA

Nagappa issue: Khandre sees `crisis'

BIDAR Nov. 24. The President of the All-India Veerashaiva Mahasabha and senior Congress leader, Bheemanna Khandre, today warned the State Government that if it failed to secure the safe release of the former minister, H.Nagappa, from the clutches of the forest brigand, Veerappan, it will face an "unprecedented crisis."

Speaking to presspersons here, Mr. Khandre expressed concern over the delay in getting Mr. Nagappa released.

"It is a matter of grave concern that even after three months, there is no news of Mr. Nagappa's release. What is at stake is not merely the life of Mr. Nagappa, but the honour and prestige of five crore Kannadigas.

The Government should secure Mr. Nagappa unharmed and also nab Veerappan. If Mr. Nagappa life is put in danger, the Government will have to face an unprecedented crisis," he warned.

Quoting Jawaharlal Nehru, Mr. Khandre said: "If we don't solve the problem faced by us in time, it will swallow us."

"The Veerappan menace has grown to this extent because of the failure of previous governments to end it. It is time the problem was overcome," he said.

Asked whether the mahasabha would support the Government if the brigand demanded ransom for releasing Mr. Nagappa, Mr. Khandre said it was for the Government to decide whether to pay ransom or not.

To a question whether the mahasabha would mobilise funds if Veerappan demanded ransom, Mr. Khandre said the Nagappa episode should not be treated as an issue concerning Lingayats only. "It concerns the entire State. Even when Rajkumar was held captive by the brigand, the mahasabha had called for his safe release," he said.Mr. Khandre did not agree that the revelations by the former Director-General of Police, C. Dinakar, had tarnished the image of the Chief Minister, S.M.Krishna.

"In a democracy anybody can talk anything," he said.