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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 April, 2003, 12:35 GMT 13:35 UK
Indian journalist on terror charge
Veerappan
RR Gopal (right) negotiated with Veerappan
Police in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu have filed charges against a journalist under a controversial anti-terrorism law.

RR Gopal is the first journalist in India to be detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota) since it was brought in last year.

He was arrested last Friday in connection with the killing of a police informer, allegedly by the bandit Veerappan.

Opposition parties, journalists and human rights activists in Tamil Nadu have condemned the arrest and called for Mr Gopal's immediate release.

Mr Gopal became well known after he recorded a video-interview with Veerappan - India's most wanted outlaw - in 1996.

The anti-terrorism law has been widely criticised for its alleged misuse by the authoriteis, and its strict provisions that campaigners say infringe basic rights.

Mr Gopal has evaded capture for the past few months fearing arrest and surfaced only last week after securing advance bail.

But police have now brought fresh charges against him, accusing him of abetting a banned Tamil militant group.

They say that when Mr Gopal was arrested, they found an unlicensed gun and printed material supporting the banned group in his possession.

Bandit negotiator

Mr Gopal denies any involvement in the murder or links with any militant group.

He accuses Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha of being vindictive, because his magazine exposed corruption in one of her previous administrations.

Mr Gopal was considered to be close to the DMK party which ruled the state from 1996 to 2000.

The party is Ms Jayalalitha's main opponent.

During DMK rule, Mr Gopal is believed to have tried to negotiate the surrender of Veerappan.

Two years ago, Mr Gopal was one of the official envoys of the governments of Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Karnataka state, brought in to negotiate the release of a film star, Rajkumar, from Veerappan's custody.

A former top Karnataka police official, C Dinakar, alleged that a huge ransom was paid to secure Rajkumar's release and that Mr Gopal took a part of the ransom for himself.

Observers say Mr Gopal is likely to face an uphill struggle to secure bail.




SEE ALSO:
Kidnapped Indian politician found dead
08 Dec 02  |  South Asia
India bandit talks 'difficult'
06 Sep 02  |  South Asia
Indian soldiers join bandit manhunt
10 Dec 00  |  South Asia
Mystery surrounds Rajkumar release
16 Nov 00  |  South Asia


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