The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Krishna takes bandit hardline

Bangalore, Dec. 31 (PTI): The Karnataka government today hiked the reward on forest brigand Veerappan’s head to Rs 5 crore from Rs 2 crore even as it declared that it will resort to “direct police action” to tackle future hostage situations in the wake of a gory end to the Nagappa kidnap case.

Vowing to capture the forest bandit dead or alive, chief minister S.M. Krishna took a tough stand, saying the government was not going to pursue negotiations, signalling a radical shift from the path of talks adopted by the state during crises involving Veerappan.

Asserting that “direct police action” would be the government’s answer to “anti-national and criminal activities”, Krishna said in the Assembly: “Hereafter, it will be our clear policy. Whether it is Veerappan or anybody else, in cases of kidnap, we will not negotiate.

“Subversive elements only understand the language of bullet,” said Krishna, who admitted that his government had failed to protect Nagappa.

He said his government was ready to face any punishment from the people while maintaining that it did its utmost to secure the unharmed release of the Janata Dal (United) leader.

Wrapping up a 17-hour-long debate in the Assembly on the Nagappa issue, he said: “Sending of cassettes will not work. We will not even hear it.”

The chief minister said he would write to his counterparts in other states, impressing upon them the need to take a similar position so that it found acceptance at the national level.

Announcing the increase in the reward on Veerappan’s head, Karnataka home minister Mallikarjun Kharge said the government was determined to capture the bandit “dead or alive”.

Krishna’s words came close on the heels of a claim by JD(U) leader Ponnachi Mahadevaswamy, who reportedly met Veerappan clandestinely twice during the Nagappa hostage crisis, that the bandit was ready to surrender provided he was given amnesty by a presidential decree.

As JD(U) leaders vociferously demanded a CBI probe into the killing of Nagappa, Krishna rejected it, saying the state police was competent to handle the job and stuck to the government’s decision to hold a judicial inquiry.

He said Justice Vaidyanathan, a retired judge, would head the commission.

The government, he said, had requested the high court chief justice to spare a sitting judge but it was stated by him that according to a Supreme Court circular, only retired judges could be named.

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