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Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 17:54 GMT
Indian police hunt bandit online
Villagers accompany the body of former minister H Nagappa to his home in Kamagere
Veerappan is accused of more than 120 murders

Police in southern India have gone online in their hunt for the country's most wanted bandit Veerappan, who is accused of more than 120 murders.

They have put out an advertisement on their website promising a reward of more than $1m for information about the bandit and his associates, who have been eluding justice for more than a decade.

Computer lab in Bangalore
A hi-tech campaign is under way to catch Karnataka's "Robin Hood"
Officials in the southern state of Karnataka say they are leaving nothing to chance.

So far, their efforts to catch the bandit, who operates in the dense jungles of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, have failed mainly because of what they believe is their lack of knowledge about his hideouts.

But Veerappan is also said to have widespread support among local villagers, who see him as a modern-day Robin Hood and may help him evade the law.

Officials say the website advertisement, in two regional languages, is aimed at those who know of Veerappan's whereabouts and are willing to share it with the authorities.

Intense search

The website carries pictures of the bandit and some of his associates, who first shot to fame as sandalwood smugglers and then are alleged to have graduated to kidnapping and extortion.

Recently, one of Karnataka's more prominent politicians, Hannur Nagappa, was allegedly abducted by Veerappan and was subsequently found murdered in the jungle.

The incident plunged the Karnataka government into a crisis, and despite intensified efforts by both the state and central government, the police have so far failed to bring Veerappan to book.

State government officials now hope their latest cyber-tactics might at last yield results.

See also:

06 Jan 03 | South Asia
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