Forest brigand Veerapan has made four fresh demands to release Kannada superstar Raj Kumar and three others held hostage by him. He has also declared himself a Tamil extremist. "My earlier struggle was for six lakh people of the forest area, now I am in the field for the six crore Tamil people,' he said (Down To Earth, Vol 7, No 9).

His four new demands signed by Veerappan on his own behalf as well as of two militant organisations: Tamil Nadu Liberation Army (TNLA) and Tamil Nadu Retrieval Troops (TNRT), include the settlement of the Cauvery water dispute by the International Court of Justice, passing of orders by the Tamil Nadu government to release five prisoners who are members of TNLA and TNRT, make Tamil the medium of instruction in schools up to senior secondary level and the last demand entails that the Tamil Nadu government should provide solatium to rape victims of Vaachatti and Chinnampathi villages, where the Special Task Force which was set up to nab Veerapan, went on rampage few years ago.

In the latest development, one of his demands was met when a TADA court on 19 August, 2000 passed an order allowing the government to withdraw the cases against 51 alleged associates of Veerappan, who had been serving jail term here for nearly seven years. The cases were withdrawn under sections 3, 4 and 5 of the TADA act.

On July 31, 2000 Rajkumar was abducted from his farm house in Gajanur, near the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border by Veerapan. Though the demands of Veerapan keep changing with every passing day. The reason cited for the abduction is jungle fatigue and Veerappan's age.

But another, and more important reason, cited by the forest officials and local people living in the forest from where the bandit operates, is depletion of sandalwood trees.