Sunday, Sep 08, 2002
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By Pranab Dhal Samanta
The 140-member team of National Security Guard commandos reached Bangalore aboard an IL-76 Indian Air Force aircraft late on Friday night to join in operations to rescue the former Karnataka Minister, H. Nagappa, and nab Veerappan.
Headed by a senior NSG officer, Brig. Raj Seetapathy, the team has joined forces with the Special Task Force in Karnataka.
The team has also carried with it an assortment of rifles such as the Uzi, Hekler and Koch. The team members also have on them 9-mm pistols of the Sag Sauer P-226 variety. In all, sources said, the kit carried by each member is 16 to 18 kg, enabling survival inside the forest for at least a week or more.
Insiders, however, said initial inputs from the team were not that "encouraging''. It is understood that local intelligence provided to the team in the area has proved to be "inaccurate'' and "imprecise''. This is said to have applied the brakes on the brisk NSG operation that was initially expected.
Although the objective of the operation was twofold, senior NSG officers said the priority was to first "locate'', then "rescue'' Mr. Nagappa and thereafter "neutralise'' the brigand. For this, sources said, Indian Air Force units in the area had also been put on the alert in case there should be a need to use helicopters.
While NSG claims to be hopeful of a success, senior officers said this was the first time they were involved in such an operation. In fact, rarely has NSG carried out a full-fledged jungle operation but officers assert that they do train for such situations.
On being contacted, the Director-General of NSG, R.S. Mooshahary, said: "Given the correct intelligence and pinpoint information about Veerappan, we would be able to pull off this mission. A lot, however, would depend on the credibility of the local intelligence.''
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