Indian bandit may seek amnesty to release film star

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The Independent Online

India's most dreaded bandit is expected to seek amnesty for his crimes in return for the release of kidnapped movie icon Rajkumar.

India's most dreaded bandit is expected to seek amnesty for his crimes in return for the release of kidnapped movie icon Rajkumar.

Rajkumar's abduction by the bandit Veerappan, who has been charged with 120 killings and numerous other crimes, triggered unrest in the city of Bangalore as angry Rajkumar fans attacked vehicles and forced businesses to close.

Rajkumar is a cult figure in the southern state of Karnataka, whose capital is Bangalore. Now 72, he has acted in 210 films in Kannada, a language spoken by about 60 million people.

The screen idol was seized at gunpoint by Veerappan and his gang on Sunday night from his farmhouse in the village of Gajanur, about 140 miles south of Bangalore and just inside the state of Tamil Nadu.

Veerappan had in the past kidnapped, and once a pair of wildlife photographers, hoping to bargain for amnesty in exchange for their safe return. But authorities dragged out negotiations and the hostages were released.

"At this point of time, we expect him to once again demand amnesty for his crimes and rehabilitation." a senior Karnataka state government said.

"Since those he kidnapped in the past were not big enough for the government to take his demands seriously, we feel he has resorted to kidnapping someone as important as Rajkumar." he added.

Government officials in Madras said an emissary chosen by the Tamil Nadu government to receive Veerappan's demands had yet to leave Madras to meet the brigand.

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