Nov. 23: The Karnataka government and political parties in the state have reached a consensus to try and send Tamil nationalist leader Kolathur Mani to negotiate the release of former Janata Dal minister H. Nagappa from the clutches of Veerappan.
The move indicates that the state government is giving in to the demands of the forest brigand, who has consistently demanded that Mani be sent as the negotiator.
Though no official announcement has been made, Opposition leaders who came out of today’s three-hour meeting made it clear that the government was more or less committed to sending Mani as the emissary to end the 88-day-long hostage drama.
Opposition leaders Jagadish Shettar of the BJP and C. Byregowda of the Dal (U) said the government had no option but to send Mani as the emissary. Opposition parties, particularly the Dal, apparently urged the Congress-led government to drop the Special Task Force operations. The Karnataka government declined to make an official announcement on the consensus as there are five cases against Mani in the state.
While the parties in Karnataka huddled over Nagappa’s kidnapping, the DMK in Tamil Nadu has not panicked at the disclosure by C. Dinakar, who was Karnataka police chief during Kannada actor Rajkumar’s abduction two years ago, that Rs 20 crore was paid to ensure the star’s safe return.
Tamil Nadu’s assistance was then confined to providing logistical support, including sending of emissaries, and “to my knowledge, no money had changed hands from here” to free the actor, former chief minister M. Karunanidhi said today.
The DMK chief said he was not aware of any move by Karnataka to pay ransom to Veerappan, as claimed by Dinakar, and defended chief minister S.M. Krishna. “It cannot be said that money had changed hands to the extent that I know,” he asserted.