T h e

K a s h m i r

T  e  l  e  g  r  a  p  h

Vol I Issue IX

A Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

January 2003

I N S I D E


 

Spotlight 

Romeet K WATT

 

Editorial     

TKT Says......

 

GuestColumn     Krishnamoorty       

 

Big Fight      

Romeet K WATT

 

On Track     

Romeet K WATT

 

Opinion

T R Jawahar

 

Analysis

Sawraj Singh

 

State Craft

Romeet K WATT

 

Report

SAT Feature

 

Last Word

Romeet K WATT

 

 


 

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L A S T   W O R D

A tale of two fugitives

Romeet K WATT


Once upon a time there lived two fugitives. The two were poles apart, yet alike. Both held democratic establishments to ransom and committed the most inhumane acts - putting to rest, innocent victims by worst possible means. And there was no stopping their despicable and diabolic acts, unless they were caught - to borrow an expression - dead or alive. Both invented that they had across-the-board prop up, which lent them the essential ingredient for the much needed motivation to go on and on with their acts against humankind.

 

While one is known to inhabit jungles somewhere in the Western Ghats at the tri-junction of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, in southern India, the other has his last living address somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan. It is ironical and amusing that half the time, confusion is about which of the known territories they are presently seeking refuge in. To be on the safe side, to assume that they live on the cusp (as in sun signs) would be a better option. Yes - and there are no prizes for speculating - we are indeed nattering about Osama bin Laden, and our very own Koose Muniswamy Veerappan.

 

To bracket our very own Veer-appan along with Osama may not sound right in the first instance, after all, Osama has beaten him hands down in recognition, and popularity (read notoriety) - something which a fugitive seeks at all times; and in both the cases, video cassettes, audio tapes are effects which keep these guys going. And, the similarity does not end here - both have their own variety of idiosyncratic appearances – while Veer-rappan may be a serious contender for the greatest or maybe most unusual signature moustache, which he twirls when he is angry, Osama has a flowing beard with streaks of grey hair, just giving him that divine spiritual look, which he needs to make the much needed impact on his bandwagon.

 

One often wonders, how our fugitives will look, minus these chattels though in case of Osama we have a fair idea from his earlier pictures as a young boy, but in case of our Veer-appan, we have nothing to aid us, except for may be some smart image mixing, but that would not be the same as meeting clean shaven Veer-appan in person.

 

Both our fugitives come from distinct backgrounds. Osama aged, 44, was born in an extremely rich family. Son of a Yemeni-born owner of a leading Saudi construction company, he is believed to have inherited as much as $300 million when his father died. And till he went berserk with his way of thinking, was comfortably enjoying his life to the fullest. On the other hand our very own Veer-appan aged around 50, was born in a poor family in Gopinatham village in the Kollegal forest area of Karnataka and hardships of his early life coupled with his latent ruthlessness made him the most-sought-after-fugitive. Early in his life he wanted do better than his cattle-grazing village friends and was in his early teens when he exterminated his first elephant. The rest is history.

 

Osama has the dubious distinction of being the first fugitive in the world in whose admiration the modest Uncle Sam has sent up a satellite or two. As for our very own Veer-appan, all of the mighty Government of India and the smaller Government of Tamil Nadu have been - God’ knows for how long - sending elite Task Forces  to track him down in the woods. Veer-appan for the last 35 years - in self-imposed exile - has been on the move, his legs not weary even after years of walking the forests - that too, believe or not in bathroom slippers. And unlike Osama, who was stripped of his citizenship, our fugitive still enjoys full Indian citizenship rights. In 1994 Saudi Arabia stripped bin Laden's citizenship, citing his opposition to the Saudi King and leadership and expelled him from the country. He then went to Khartoum, Sudan (where he owns many businesses), but under U.S. bulldoze was expelled in 1996 and shuttled to Afghanistan, and is presently on the run, and in hiding.

 

Our very own Veer-appan has as over 150 cases against him, is accused of 119 murders and he does once in a while, smuggle out ivory and sandalwood worth millions of rupees, just to keep him busy. However of late, he has also resorted to kidnapping and extortions, latent objective being to have some good company. In the latest episode, the end, when it came couldn’t have been worse. Former Karnataka Minister, H Nagappa, 66, held in captivity for the last 106-days is the latest victim to have fallen prey to our ever elusive forest brigand. This incident is not the first and shall in no way be his last act of ruthlessness. In the past he also has had the distinction of being kept company by an ageing matinee idol.

 

Osama, on the other hand, does not by himself carry out the acts, after all, he has far more resources at his disposal. But the bottom line, the tailpiece, is the same: He has been linked to the 1992 bombings of a hotel in Yemen, which killed two Australians; the 1995 detonation of a car bomb in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; the 1995 truck bomb in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. servicemen; and the 1995 assassination attempt on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Bin Laden has been directly connected to the August 7, 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, killing 224 people, and the October 2000 attack of the U.S. destroyer ship Cole in Yemen and last but not the least the diabolic acts, which brought the WTC tumbling down, and members of his elite bandwagon did also, as a matter of fact, penetrate the  high security fortress - Pentagon.

 

Osama and our very own Veer-appan no doubt have their own ideologies and beliefs, which they dearly protect and propagate. Bin Laden has always used anti-American, anti-Western and anti-Israel sentiments as basis for his attacks. In fact, he has been more than outspoken on these topics – pan-Arabic satellite channel Al-Jazeera has been his medium - issuing theological rulings calling for Muslims to attack Americans and threatening terrorism against related targets. Pointing to the defeat of the Soviet forces in Afghanistan, bin Laden has consistently declared that the United States is vulnerable to defeat by a jihad by Islamic forces.

 

And not to be left behind, our very own Veer-appan fancies himself as the sole protector of Tamilians. Subsequent to the Rajakumar kidnap, he asserted to be the sole guardian of the rights of 60 million Tamilians. He goes a step further and without baiting an eyelid makes known to us that he can win an election hands down. He has even dreams of walking tall in public life, which  stems from his belief that he has incredible empathy among the Tamils. When the Cauvery river water dispute – it erupts every now and then - between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu turned violent, Veer-appan to make his presence felt, and to identify with the Tamilian cause on the issue, raided a police station inside Karnataka to exhibit his honed disdain for SM Krishna and his people.

 

And, believe it or not, our fugitives have a sizable following, which if not growing in number has shown no signs of dwindling. Osama, for one derives his support base from among the right wing ultra-fundamentalist Muslims, who sincerely believe that it is their moral duty to attack non-believers, who have according to them are the biggest threat to Islam. In case of our very own Veer-appan, the story is not much different. He is known to have helped the poor in times of difficulty, financed marriages, and even donated for construction of temples. No doubt, he is worshipped, and is seen as a do-gooder. Unlike Osama, Veerappan has had no schooling, but that has not deterred him to master wily fox like qualities, which he exhibits, more often than one desires.

 

And, accept as it true or not, our two fugitives are known to make a lasting impression on whosoever comes into contact with them. Osama, for one is known for his discourses, which he has used, time and again, effectively, to allure people to join his bandwagon. And if the forest grapevine is to be believed, the people who have spent time with our very own Veer-appan, have suffered from Stockholm syndrome, where the victims start empathising with their abductor. He is also known for his lung-power sprouted battery of jokes to entertain his captives. No wonder, he has still not been caught.

 

With their warped sense of logic, to assume that our two fugitives will return to the civilised fold so soon, on their own, would not be pragmatic. If we are serious about apprehending them before they venture into some more of their mischief’s, it is imperative that we send out our boats to meet their ship, and unburden them of their deadly cargo. Sink the ship if necessary, but for heaven’s sake, don’t wait for the ship to arrive at the harbour. If  one intends to really break the dreadlocks, the most effective cure is drastic surgery.

 

Hope still flickers!

 

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