Dr Raj's abduction: looking back at the fateful night

Dr Raj's abduction: looking back at the fateful night

The unthinkable happened on July 30, 2000. Kannada matinee idol Dr Rajkumar was kidnapped from his farmhouse at Gajanur in the Talavadi taluk of Erode district, Tamil Nadu, by forest brigand Veerappan. As the news of the abduction spread the next morning, violence and arson broke out across Karnataka. 

Rajkumar was a revered figure and commanded respect unmatched in the state's modern history. The incident sent shockwaves across the state and badly damaged an already fragile relationship that existed between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

The Kannada icon had gone to the shrine of Lord Venkateshwara in Tirumala with some family members and while returning to Bengaluru decided to stop over at his farmhouse in Gajanur. 

Minutes after he finished dinner, around 15 armed men led by notorious sandalwood smuggler Veerappan entered his house and asked him to walk outside. Reports state that Veerappan and his men were very respectful towards the thespian and assured the family "no harm will be done".

Veerappan then handed over a cassette to Rajkumar's wife Parvathamma and asked her to hand it over to the then chief minister S M Krishna. The other men, son-in-law A S Govindraj, Nagesh (a relative) and assistant director Nagappa, were also told to join Rajkumar outside. 

Minutes after Rajkumar and the three men were taken away by the forest brigand and his gang, Parvathamma rushed to Bengaluru to meet Krishna. Around 1:30 am, the chief minister got a bolt from the blue.

Hell broke loose across the state, especially in Bengaluru, once the news spread. Offices of four Tamil dailies were attacked as protests and violence broke out across the state. The Kannada film industry shut down operations as a mark of protest. Hours later, Krishna left for Chennai to meet his Tamil Nadu counterpart M Karunanidhi.

The Tamil Nadu government then persuaded the editor of Nakheeran, R R Gopal, to become the emissary and negotiate Rajkumar's release. After 108 days of lengthy negotiations, Veerappan finally agreed and the saga ended.

Kidnapping people in return for favours had become Veerappan's modus operandi. Earlier, he had kidnapped nine forest officials from Kollegala and demanded a pardon from the government in return for releasing them. The officials were released after seven weeks, though the government did not meet Veerappan's demands.

ALSO READ: Glad I could bring Dr Rajkumar back alive: Nakeeran Gopal

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