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Monday, 2 September, 2002, 09:22 GMT 10:22 UK
India bandit talks ruled out
Jayalalitha (C) with Prime Minister Vajpayee (R) and Deputy PM Advani (L)
The Tamil Nadu leader has refused to cut deals
The southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu has ruled out negotiations with the bandit Veerappan over the release of a former minister he kidnapped a week ago.

Veerappan abducted H Nagappa, a former minister from the neighbouring Karnataka state, and demanded the release of prisoners held in both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in exchange for Mr Nagappa's freedom.

But Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha told journalists in Madras on Monday her government would "do everything necessary" to capture Veerappan, a notorious elephant poacher and sandal-wood smuggler, wanted for the alleged murder of around 100 men.

The state government in Karnataka, in contrast, says it plans to negotiate Mr Nagappa's safe release and is known to have eased off a search operation by security forces in the forest straddling the borders between the two states where Veerappan operates.

Family concerns

Despite her tough approach, Ms Jayalalitha assured the Nagappa family that her government would try to capture the bandit without threatening Mr Nagappa's life.

Veerappan
Veerappan has demanded release of prisoners

Similar assurances were given by the Chief Minister of Karnataka, SM Krishna, to Mr Nagappa's wife and son, at the family's home in Champarajnagar on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border last week.

Correspondents say Mr Nagappa's family members are anxious to secure his release unharmed and the Karnataka state government appears to have been more sympathetic to their pleas.

However, Ms Jayalalitha too appears to be paying attention to the concerns expressed by the Nagappa family, and would be meeting Mrs Nagappa on Tuesday.

But she seems determined to pursue the brigand.

She told journalists that while she was sympathetic to the family, she was opposed to sending emissaries to negotiate a deal with Veerappan.

Peaceful efforts

Karnataka officials, on the other hand, have already consulted Venugopal, a lawyer, who has in the past served as an intermediary.

H Nagappa
Nagappa: Snatched from his home
"The Government of Karnataka called on me and we spoke," he said, "I'm awaiting a message from Veerappan."

"We are expecting some demands from him though there are none to date," Mr Venugopal told the AFP news agency.

The Indian Government in Delhi, concerned about the lack of progress in the search for Mr Nagappa, has offered troops but neither Karnataka nor Tamil Nadu has showed any interest.

Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani is attending a function in Karnataka on Monday and is discussing the situation with state officials.

Correspondents say a fresh initiative could emerge from the discussions.

See also:

30 Aug 02 | South Asia
29 Aug 02 | South Asia
20 Jun 02 | South Asia
23 Nov 01 | South Asia
10 Dec 00 | South Asia
16 Nov 00 | South Asia
28 Sep 00 | South Asia
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