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Monday, 14 October, 2002, 14:22 GMT 15:22 UK
India kidnap deadline nears
Veerappan meets journalist R. R. Gopal
Veerappan (left) has not secured his chosen emissaries

Fresh fears have been raised for the safety of a kidnapped Indian former minister as a deadline for talks set by his captor, the notorious bandit Veerappan, was due to end on Monday.

Veerappan last week set an eight-day deadline for authorities in the southern state of Karnataka to send two emissaries to negotiate the release of former state minister H Nagappa.

One of the chosen emissaries is in jail and state authorities said they were not in a position to release him.

Veerappan has been holding Mr Nagappa hostage in the forests bordering Karnataka and Tamil Nadu since 25 August and has threatened to kill him.

Bail petition

In an audio tape sent on 6 October, Veerappan had asked the government to send Tamil activist Kollathur Mani and a local leader of the socialist Janata Dal United, Ponnachi Mahadevaswamy, to begin talks for the release of Mr Nagappa.

H Nagappa
Minister H Nagappa: Abducted on 25 August

Karnataka Home Minister M Kharge said the government had agreed in principle to send both as emissaries but could not release Mr Mani, who is charged with supplying arms to Veerappan.

Mr Mani's petition for bail comes up in the High Court this week.

Mr Kharge said efforts were being made to persuade Mr Mahadevaswamy to enter the jungle and begin negotiations.

Frustrated by the delay in securing Mr Nagappa's release, the former minister's supporters have decided to hold a rally in Mysore this Friday to press the government to begin negotiations as soon as possible.

Veerappan, on the run for more than 30 years, operates in the forests bordering Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

He is wanted for more than 100 murders, most of them police officers and forestry officials.

He is also wanted for elephant poaching and sandalwood smuggling.

See also:

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