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Wednesday, 2 August, 2000, 09:28 GMT 10:28 UK
Emissary heads for bandit talks
Thousands of supporters outside Rajkumar's house
Thousands of Rajkumar's fans gathered outside his house
A magazine editor has gone to a forest region in southern India to negotiate with the bandit who kidnapped one of the country's most famous film stars.

The emissary, sent by the authorities in the southern states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, aims to establish what the bandit Veerappan - India's most wanted fugitive - wants for the release of the veteran film actor Rajkumar.

Meanwhile, the southern Indian city of Bangalore has slowly been returning to normal after rioting and a general strike over the kidnapping paralysed it for two days. Bangalore is the capital of India's information technology (IT) industry.

Veerappan
Veerappan is wanted for over 100 murders

Government officials in Karnataka, of which Bangalore is the capital, said some public transport services had been restored but all educational institutions remained closed for a third day.

Normal business was expected at the city's shops, offices and petrol stations, which have been closed since Monday.

Rajkumar, the 72-year-old veteran of 210 films in the regional Kannada language, was abducted from his farmhouse in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu on Sunday night.

Veerappan, a notorious sandalwood smuggler and elephant poacher, is wanted by the police in connection with more than 100 murders.

He operates in the forests on the border between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Rajkumar
Rajkumar is a legend in Karnataka
The hunt for Veerappan was suspended on Tuesday amid hopes that the emissary, Nakkeeran Gopal, would establish contact with him.

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.

Tamil Nadu's police chief, FC Sharma, told Reuters news agency that Mr Gopal would get in touch with the Tamil Nadu government after making contact with the brigand some time on Wednesday.

The violence in Bangalore adversely affected the city's IT business.

Of the 4,500 enterprises currently operating in Bangalore, more than 1,500 have a foreign component, with total overseas investment estimated to be $2.14bn in 1999.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce has halted work on all new productions until the actor is released.

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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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