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Tuesday, 15 October, 2002, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
Indian state sends bandit negotiator
Veerappan meets journalist R. R. Gopal
Veerappan (left) asked for two emissaries

The government in the southern Indian state of Karnataka says it is sending a party colleague of former minister H Nagappa to negotiate his release from the bandit, Veerappan.

Ponnachi Mahadevaswamy is one of the two talks emissaries named by Veerappan in an audio tape sent earlier this month.

Mr Mahadevaswamy comes from Kollegal, near the Tamil Nadu border, from where Mr Nagappa was abducted in August this year.

The authorities' decision comes a day after an eight-day deadline set by Veerappan for talks expired.

Karnataka Home Minister Mallikarjun Kharge told journalists in Bangalore that Mr Mahadevaswamy was expected to head shortly to Veerappan's forest hide-out to begin negotiations.

Influence

Mr Kharge said the government was not in a position to release another negotiator demanded by Veerappan, Kollathur Mani, who is being held in jail on the charge of supplying arms to Veerappan.

Mr Mani's bail application is due to be heard in the Karnataka High Court on Thursday.

The home minister said Chief Minister SM Krishna had spoken to Federal Defence Minister George Fernandes on Monday night to discuss the hostage crisis.

H Nagappa
Minister H Nagappa: Abducted on 25 August
The state authorities believe Mr Fernandes may be able to influence the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu to agree to hold negotiations with Veerappan.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha has ruled out talks with the outlaw, who is wanted in connection with more than 120 murders.

Officials believe Mr Fernandes could also exert pressure on the leader of the Pattali Makkal Katchi party to use his clout in the region where Veerappan operates to secure Mr Nagappa's safe release.

The party is an alliance partner of India's ruling National Democratic Alliance of which Mr Fernandes is a leading member.

See also:

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