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Police purge & pardon on day of bomb hoax

Chennai, Jan. 6: Busy grappling with a bomb hoax that spread panic among schools in the city, the police force here learned that its director-general had been replaced by an officer who was shunted out in 2001.

The bomb threat to a Christian school in north Chennai prompted evacuation of several schools.

After principals of several schools in the locality declared a holiday and parents rushed to take their wards home, the threat was found to be a hoax.

As the Greater Chennai Police were trying to trace till this evening the anonymous caller who gave the bomb alert, their director-general, B.P. Nailwal, was replaced with R. Rajagopalan.

According to official sources, the transfer of the police officer had nothing to do with the hoax bomb threat.

Rajagopalan, the former state director-general of police, was shunted out to Delhi as the National Security Guards chief after the ADMK came to power in May 2001.

After five months in Delhi, Rajagopalan had returned to the state cadre for “personal reasons” and was appointed the DGP, Uniform Services Recruitment Board.

The bigger surprise among government officials, however, was Nailwal’s removal. Reputed to be an upright officer, Nailwal was given the news of his removal while attending a national seminar in the city on the “Future of Human Rights”.

This is the first major change in the bureaucracy after chief minister Jayalalithaa’s return from Hyderabad a couple of days ago.

According to sources, the removal was “unceremonious”. Nailwal, however, was unavailable for comment.

On Friday, he had presided over the valedictory function for the first batch of the State Women Commando training, a force that is the first of its kind in the country, and the “Counter-Terrorism Men Commando Training”.

At St Peters School at Royapuram, sources said a peon in the office received the anonymous threat call around 7.45 am. The caller said a bomb was planted in the school and it would explode at any time.

The school authorities immediately declared a holiday for the day and called in the police. A thorough search by the bomb disposal squad, however, yielded nothing.

Local residents, too, panicked after rumours spread that several other Christian institutions in the locality had been targeted. When parents rushed to the schools to take home their wards, the principals decided to declare a holiday to counter the panic reaction.

Over the last few weeks, several schools across Chennai, including those with Hindu management, have been receiving similar anonymous calls.

Veerappan ‘aides’ held

Three suspected accomplices of bandit Veerappan have been caught by the special task force during combing operations in the Bannari forest in Erode, police said. Sources said gelatine sticks and detonators were found on them.

The police claimed that the three helped Veerappan abduct H. Nagappa, the former Karnataka minister who died in the bandit’s captivity.

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