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Friday, 22 November, 2002, 12:19 GMT
Indian bandit 'was paid ransom'
Veerappan meets journalist R. R. Gopal
Veerappan (left) discussed the kidnap with emissaries

A former Indian police official has revealed that a huge ransom was paid to secure the release of popular film star Rajkumar from a notorious bandit, who took him hostage two years ago.


Only a handful of people know what really happened

C Dinakar
Former director general of police in the southern state of Karnataka, C Dinakar, makes the disclosure in a book on the kidnap of Rajkumar by bandit Veerappan.

Mr Dinakar says he has now sought protection from the state governor because he fears an attack on his life and property following his revelations.

The Karnataka government, which was rocked by the kidnapping of the state's most popular actor, has consistently denied any ransom was paid to the bandit.

The revelation that the government apparently helped arrange a ransom and also that Karnataka Chief Minister SM Krishna spoke directly to the bandit on a mobile phone is likely to embarrass the government.

Negotiations

The 318-page book, called Veerappan's Prize Catch: Rajkumar, is going on sale on Friday.

It provides an inside story of the actor's sensational kidnap and release.

Freed film star Rajkumar (right) with Chief Minister SM Krishna
Freed film star Rajkumar (right) with the chief minister
The government facilitated the payment of $4m (200m rupees) to ensure the kidnapped actor's safe release from Veerappan's custody, says Mr Dinakar

The retired police official had a ringside view of the 108-day hostage crisis as the state's police chief and says what he has written in his book "is based on the evidence".

The revelations come at a time when the authorities are on the verge of sending an emissary to negotiate the release of Veerappan's latest hostage, H Nagappa, a former minister.

Mr Nagappa has been in Veerappan's custody since 25 August.

Conversation

Mr Krishna was not available for comment, but officials said the issue would be informally discussed at a cabinet meeting later on Friday.

Mr Dinakar says Veerappan spoke to the chief minister on 14 November 2000, the day Rajkumar was released from the jungle bordering the two southern states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

"I have released him," the bandit, who is wanted for more than 120 murders, told Mr Krishna.

Veerappan used the mobile of one of the emissaries sent to negotiate Rajkumar's release, says Mr Dinakar.

Asked if he was apprehensive about a hostile reaction from the government, Mr Dinakar, who has a tough reputation, told the BBC: "I stand by what I have said in my book.

"As a police officer and now as a lawyer, I know my responsibilities. I have only stated the facts."

When Mr Dinakar announced that he would reveal all in a book after his retirement in 2001, the government immediately asked to see a preview copy - a request that he turned down.

In the preface, Mr Dinakar says: "Only a handful of people know what really happened. I am the only one among them who is free to write this book."

See also:

15 Oct 02 | South Asia
06 Sep 02 | South Asia
31 Aug 02 | South Asia
16 Nov 00 | South Asia
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