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The BBC's Jon Brain
"No specific explanation for his kidnapping has been given"
 real 56k

The BBC's Mike Wooldridge in Delhi
"Relatives of the movie star travelled through Bangalore appealing for calm"
 real 28k

The BBC's Habib Beary in Bangalore
"Reports of rioting across the city"
 real 28k

Monday, 31 July, 2000, 21:12 GMT 22:12 UK
India's approach to bandit kidnapper
Fans of actor Rajkumar protesting against his abduction
Rajkumar's kidnapping sparked violent protests
The authorities in southern India are sending an emissary to contact the country's most notorious bandit, Veerappan, who has kidnapped a leading film actor.

The actor, Rajkumar, was abducted by Veerappan from his farmhouse in the southern state of Tamil Nadu late on Sunday night. Three of Rajkumar's relatives were taken with him.

Film actor Rajkumar
Rajkumar: Seized from his farmhouse
Rajkumar, who is in his 70s, has appeared in some 200 films, and has cult status in the neighbouring state of Karnataka.

The Tamil Nadu and Karnataka authorities are sending a joint emissary to hear Veerappan's demands, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi said.

Nakkeeran Gopal, a Tamil newspaper editor and publisher who has interviewed Veerappan in the past, agreed to act as emissary.

Veerappan, whose crimes include sandalwood smuggling and elephant poaching, is wanted by the police in connection with some 120 murders. He operates in the forests on the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border.

Veerappan
Veerappan: India's most wanted man
Mr Gopal successfully negotiated the release two years ago of eight people taken hostage by Veerappan, and is one of the few people believed to have won the bandit's trust.

Karnataka Chief Minister SM Krishna said his government would consider the brigand's demands with "an open mind".

Bangalore violence

The kidnapping triggered violence in some parts of the state capital Bangalore, forcing the authorities to impose a curfew.

Police said angry fans attacked vehicles and property in Bangalore belonging to people from Tamil Nadu.

Rajkumar profile
Born in 1929 in Gajanur, Karnataka
Film debut with "Bedara Kannappa" in 1954
Worked in more than 200 films
Won India's top cinema honour, the Dada Saheb Phalke award in 1997

The authorities ordered schools in the city to close temporarily as a precaution.

The Karnataka chief minister said Rajkumar was abducted from his farmhouse in Gajanur village, which lies just inside Tamil Nadu, 225km from Bangalore.

"About 10 or 12 armed people barged into his farmhouse after Dr Rajkumar had had his dinner along with his family and was watching television," Mr Krishna said.

He said the actor's wife, Parvathamma, was asked not to inform the police.

"Veerappan assured her that he will not harm him (Rajkumar)," the chief minister was quoted as saying.

Mr Krishna also said that in an audio cassette sent through Parvathamma, Veerappan had asked the local government to send an emissary to negotiate with him.

'No ransom demand'

Police said he made no ransom demand in the cassette. Veerappan claimed that the kidnapping was staged in protest at mistreatment of Tamils in Karnataka, they said.

Veerappan has been eluding police for nearly two decades, but little had been heard of him for a long while.

Meanwhile, the federal government has promised all possible help to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in the effort to win the release of Rajkumar.

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See also:

31 Jul 00 | South Asia
Bandit kidnaps top film star
31 Jul 00 | South Asia
A ruthless and daring bandit
14 Apr 99 | South Asia
Jayalalitha: Actress-turned-politician
03 Sep 99 | South Asia
South India takes its place
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