The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Jaya springs to crack force defence

Chennai, Dec. 12: Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa cautioned against indiscreet remarks by Karnataka home minister Mallikarjun Kharge on the Tamil Nadu Special Task Force’s role vis-à-vis Janata Dal (United) leader H. Nagappa’s death and sought her Karnataka counterpart, S.M. Krishna’s, cooperation in ensuring that joint STF operations by the two states to arrest forest brigand Veerappan is not derailed again.

In a letter to Krishna today, Jayalalithaa said the remarks attributed to Kharge regarding allegations against the Tamil Nadu STF, which had fuelled speculation that the latter “had caused the death” of Nagappa, had caused much unease. Veerappan had made this allegation in the latest cassette sent by him to the state government.

Jayalalithaa iterated that the Tamil Nadu STF was not responsible for any alleged encounter, as the incident took place more than 40 km inside Karnataka’s borders.

The Tamil Nadu chief minister pointed out that the recent withdrawal of joint STF operations was done at the behest of the Karnataka government. The Tamil Nadu STF had continued its vigil but had stayed within the state’s boundaries as “our definite strategy has always been to capture Veerappan”.

However, Nagappa’s murder by the brigand has shocked everyone, Jayalalithaa said. She pointed out that another decomposed body found in the Karnataka side of the forest yesterday has now been identified as that of a Karnataka STF constable.

This, she asserted, established that “it was the Karnataka STF which was involved in combing operations just prior to the murder” of Nagappa and “conclusively establishes the fact that the Tamil Nadu STF was in no way involved in this episode”.

In this context, Kharge’s “implication” in sections of the media would only “vitiate the atmosphere” in Karnataka and also endanger the joint operation itself, the chief minister said.

It would also create suspicion and bad blood in the field among the personnel of the task force, she claimed.

Jayalalithaa said the “Capture Veerappan Mission” should be beyond the political considerations of both state governments, adding that the “war against Veerappan must be fought in the forests where Veerappan lurks, not in the columns of the media”.

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