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Nagappa talks hit emissary hurdle

Chennai, Nov. 18: Tamil Nadu and Karnataka today failed to reach an understanding on the choice of “emissary” to be sent to Veerappan to secure the release of former Karnataka minister H. Nagappa.

Talks were held between the two states today to discuss ways to end the 86-day-old hostage crisis.

A ministerial delegation from Karnataka, headed by home minister Mallikarjun Kharge, said the states were “working on a strategy to ensure the safe release of Nagappa”. Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa, however, displayed no such enthusiasm.

With Karnataka bringing the Special Task Force operations to a halt and asking Tamil Nadu to withdraw from joint operations in Karnataka, the appointment of an emissary has become most crucial.

Tamil activist Kolathur Mani, now under detention in Karnataka, is billed as the most appropriate emissary as he is believed to be one of the few who Veerappan’s associates can identify.

But both sides are reluctant to bell the cat, particularly after Karnataka had rejected the bandit’s proposal to send minister Raju Gowda.

Dubbing the talks “cordial and fruitful”, Kharge told reporters that Jayalalithaa has “promised” all possible cooperation and that further discussions are needed to give shape to a new strategy to “ensure the safe release of Nagappa”.

Asked if the question of sending an emissary had come up during the talks, Karnataka minister for primary and secondary education B.K. Chandrasekhar, who was part of the delegation, said: “Nothing specific on that, but it was in the background of the discussions.”

The talks will continue till Nagappa’s release, the Karnataka team asserted. Kharge, however, added that they were in no position to disclose the details of the strategy.

Shortly after Kharge left, Jayalalithaa drove down to suburban Koyembedu to formally inaugurate a new Rs 105-crore bus terminus, said to be the largest in Southeast Asia.

An official communiqué on the Jayalalithaa-Kharge talks said Amma had made it clear that Tamil Nadu was committed to arresting Veerappan “by adopting a definite strategy and firm action within its territory”.

Avoiding reference to either “ensuring the safe release of Nagappa” or the “emissary” row, the communiqué said that at present, the joint STF operation has been discontinued only in Karnataka. Jayalalithaa, however, has said that if Karnataka desired, she was willing to reactivate the joint operations in the state to “capture Veerappan”, the communiqué added. “Hence, the government of Tamil Nadu has no active role to play in this regard at this juncture.”

If a specific request was made by Karnataka suggesting the “active involvement” of Tamil Nadu, it would be given due consideration and all possible assistance rendered, it pointed out.

The Tamil Nadu team included PWD minister O. Panneerselvam, finance minister C. Ponniayan, chief secretary Sukavaneshvar, home secretary Syed Munir Hoda, STF chief W.I. Dawaram, DGP B.P. Nailwal and Chennai police commissioner K. Vijayakumar.

Representing Karnataka were additional chief secretary A. Ravindra, DGP T. Madiyal and former DGP T. Srinivasulu, besides Kharge and Chandrasekhar.

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