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Tape twist to Nagappa crisis

Bangalore, Nov. 22: Forest brigand Veerappan has despatched his fifth cassette with a threat to behead his hostage, former Karnataka minister Nagappa, if his demands are not met by the end of this month, sending the political establishment into a frenzy of activity.

The sluggishness of the state government over the 87-day hostage crisis was broken by a series of meetings, including an emergency session of the Cabinet, today. Senior police officials huddled together on at least three occasions to discuss how they should respond to the threat. The meetings, including a gathering of all parties, will continue tomorrow.

In the cassette delivered last night to the family of Nagappa, a Janata Dal leader, Veerappan again demanded that jailed Tamil activist Kolathur Mani be sent to the forest to negotiate the release. The cassette shows Veerappan’s impatience.

He said he cannot wait any longer and threatened to kill Nagappa if Mani, who is facing five cases, is not sent to talk to him by November 30. The latest cassette has aggravated the anxiety of Nagappa’s family members. They met chief minister S.M. Krishna this morning and were assured that the government would take all steps to get him released.

Krishna has indicated that the government is willing to allow a fair trial if Veerappan surrenders, an offer the brigand has clearly not entertained.

More trouble has descended on Krishna with a book claiming that a ransom of Rs 20 crore — divided in four instalments — was paid to secure the release of veteran Kannada actor Rajkumar, who had also been taken hostage by Veerappan. The book, by former director-general of police C. Dinakar, on the 108-day hostage crisis also relates the alleged method used to free Rajkumar.

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