Officials rule out raid to free Indian movie star

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The Independent Online

Two state governments Friday ruled out a commando operation to rescue an Indian movie star kidnapped by an elusive bandit five weeks ago.

Two state governments Friday ruled out a commando operation to rescue an Indian movie star kidnapped by an elusive bandit five weeks ago.

Instead, the governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu will urge the Supreme Court to allow the release of 55 criminals, as demanded by the outlaw, Veerappan, for freeing actor Rajkumar. Both men use only one name, as is common in southern India.

India's highest court blocked immediate release of Veerappan's gang members on Sept. 1, but gave the two governments time to file arguments for a hearing next week.

The court had acted on a petition by a man whose son, a policeman, was killed by Veerappan.

"Our main concern is the safety of Rajkumar," Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, the highest elected official of Tamil Nadu state, told reporters on Friday.

The actor, who starred in 210 Tamil language films, has a large following in southern India. There were riots when he was kidnapped July 30, along with three family members and associates from his holiday home.

Veerappan, 56, is wanted in the two states for 130 murders, the slaughter of 2,000 elephants and the smuggling of ivory and sandalwood worth millions of dollars.

Along with the release of the criminals, Veerappan has demanded dlrs 12 million in ransom.

"Time is not ripe for military intervention or a commando-type operation to nab Veerappan," Karunanidhi said in Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka.

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