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Thursday, 28 September, 2000, 16:43 GMT 17:43 UK
Kidnap strike paralyses Bangalore
Man reading paper
Fans are frustrated at Rajkumar's prolonged captivity
Life in parts of the southern Indian state of Karnataka has been paralysed by a strike to protest at the plight of kidnapped film idol Rajkumar.

The strike - called by fans and family of the film star - has affected the state capital, Bangalore, regarded as India's premier high-tech city.

Veerappan
Veerappan: Has held Rajkumar since end of July
IT companies were closed along with educational and business establishments.

Only government offices, railways and state-run transport offices were reported to be open, but operating with a skeleton staff.

Observers said many people preferred to stay away from work out of fear rather than in support of the kidnapped actor.

Some of the protests immediately after his kidnapping turned violent.

There was heavy security in the city for the strike, with some 6,000 police patrolling the streets.

Officials said more than 10,000 policemen had been deployed across the state as a whole.

Freed

Rajkumar was kidnapped at the end of July by the notorious bandit, Veerappan, and prolonged negotiations have failed to secure his release.

In another development, one of the three men taken hostage with Rajkumar has returned home.

Police told the BBC that the hostage, Maradagi Nagappa, reached his village in Tamil Nadu on Thursday evening.

However, it was not clear yet whether Mr Nagappa was freed or he escaped from captivity.

Senior police officers have rushed to the village to meet him.

Appeal

In a tape brought back on Wednesday from the jungle hideout where he is being held, Rajkumar appealed to his supporters to call off the strike.


I do not want you to cause any trouble to either the government or the people

Rajkumar
He said in the tape that he did not want to cause any disruption or see any violence.

"If you were to strike... it will inconvenience the general public and I do not want you to cause any trouble to either the government or the people," he said.

Rajkumar's family and supporters are increasingly angry at his prolonged kidnapping, and the apparent inability of the authorities to secure his release.

A government emissary, RR Gopal, has made several trips to the jungle where Rajkumar is being held.

Resolution

A resolution to the crisis appeared to be in sight last month, when the authorities agreed to release several jailed associates of Veerappan from prison.

But the move was blocked by the Supreme Court in Delhi after a petition was filed by the father of a policeman killed by Veerappan.

A further hearing has been scheduled for 11 October.

Veerappan is one of India's most wanted men.

He is charged with murdering more than 100 people and is wanted for elephant poaching and sandalwood smuggling.

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See also:

21 Sep 00 | South Asia
Kidnapped star's fans protest
19 Sep 00 | South Asia
Legal delay in Rajkumar case
14 Aug 00 | South Asia
Film star's family's plea to fans
01 Aug 00 | South Asia
Kidnap drama paralyses Bangalore
31 Jul 00 | South Asia
A ruthless and daring bandit
20 Sep 00 | South Asia
Bandit protest takes TV off air
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