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Task force may search Kollegal forests

By S. Rajendran

BANGALORE, OCT. 29. The police forces of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have been discussing the maintenance of a combined task force to comb the Chamarajanagar-Kollegal forests across the two States.

The Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, is expected to speak to his Tamil Nadu counterpart, Jayalalithaa, after official-level discussions.

To be retained?

Sources in the Karnataka Government told The Hindu here today that the view here was that the two States should, for some time, retain the Special Task Force (STF), which ended the Veerappan menace.

They said the fear was that other bandits or Tamil extremists might be hiding in the forests, and it would take months for the police of either State, working independently, to expel such elements. Therefore, Karnataka was keen on carrying forward the joint operations by the police of the two States.

The Principal Secretary, Home, Brahma Dutt, has invited the Home Secretary of Tamil Nadu, Sheela Rani, to visit Bangalore at the earliest for discussions on policing.

Jayalalithaa's visit

Mr. Dharam Singh is expected to discuss the issue pertaining to the STF with Ms. Jayalalithaa during the latter's proposed visit to Bangalore in November to attend a conference of the Chief Ministers of the southern States.

The meeting, suggested by the Planning Commission, will discuss the comprehensive development of the southern region.

Mr. Dharam Singh is also expected to speak to Ms. Jayalalithaa on the need for building a good working relationship between the police of the two States. Sources said that on Wednesday, Mr. Dharam Singh had discussed the retention of the STF with the Tamil Nadu STF chief, K. Vijay Kumar, who was in Bangalore.

Strength increased

Karnataka has increased the strength of the STF over the past few years, particularly after the kidnap and release of the Kannada thespian, Rajkumar, in 2000.

From 15 platoons, the strength of the force was raised to 35 platoons. Barring the officers, all the others were from the Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP).

Most of the KSRP personnel had volunteered to participate in the operation to catch Veerappan although they were not familiar with the forest terrain. The same was the case with the Tamil Nadu Special Police officials who were drafted.

The two States were said to be of the opinion that they should put these motivated and trained personnel to effective use.

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