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The Curious Case of Kobad Ghandy

October 6, 2009

The Maoist menace has increased exponentially. The proverbial last straw on the camel’s back has been the murder of intelligence officer Francis Induwar whose body was found near Ranchi. I am not sure whether the Indian state has the will to fight these communist ultras, but if even the murder of Induwar elicits no response from the Indian state, then I am afraid what the prime minister said a few weeks back, that we are losing the battle against the Maoists will hold true.

The September 21, 2009 arrest of Kobad Ghandy has ruffled the feathers of the Maoists. Kobad Ghandy is an interesting case. The man is an ideologue and a committed communist who talks about unleashing revolution which could mean anything from war against the state to rejecting any democratic set up. He is 63 years of age, and has studied at the elite Doon School. Later he went to London for higher studies in accountancy. The unlikely name is because of his Parsee background. He comes from an affluent family, as one would expect a Parsee to be. His father was a top executive in Glaxo. He was a classmate of Sanjay Gandhi at Doon School.

The arrest of Kobad Ghandy has unsettled the Maoists like nothing has. So much so that they have killed a police intelligence officer, Francis Induwar, whom they had captured when he went out to get information about the Maoists. They murdered Induwar when their demand for the release of Kobad Ghandy in exchange for him were not met. His mutilated body was found near Ranchi. The police officer was murdered in cold blood. The Maoists demand for the release of Ghandy in exchange for Induwar was also an attempt to show that they can hold the country to ransom. His murder was again an attempt to tell the world that they will stop at nothing.  It was a Taliban like execution with Induwar’s beheaded body thrown on one of the roads near Ranchi. Such gruesome murder has shaken the conscience of the nation.

The Maoist menace has become a recurring pain for the nation. This malaise if not treated could become a chronic problem that could have terrible consequences. Those nations that have faced the vicious onslaught of such left ultras have found that they have had to suffer a lot. It is imperative that the Maoists are dealt with a heavy hand. These terrorists should be stopped in their tracks right now – the country can wait no longer. They have killed more than 600 police personnel and more than 8000 innocent civilians have lost their lives to their attacks. More than 2000 police stations are under Maoist control.  In these areas their writ runs large. Home Minister Chidambaram’s plea that the society must recognize that these are terrorists and should be treated as such is just not enough. He also seems to be concerned about the left lobby and has urged them time and again to step back and take a fresh look at the problem of the Maoists. He seems to be reluctant and hesitant in going all out after the Maoists. If he is concerned about the people of India, he should look at the percentage of votes polled for the Left parties and that should give him an indication as to how far and how much is the depth of their following in the country. The arm chair intellectuals who want to sound ‘progressive’ should be of no concern to the Home Minister as these are people who have little impact. If he is concerned about the media and their reaction to a government crackdown on the Maoists, well, one must have the courage to do what is right. For this menace is taking alarming proportions with each passing day. It is time the state showed its resolve to weed out this wretched cancer that are the Maoists before they inflict any further damage.

It is also clear that the Maoists are not working of their own accord. They are being sponsored by people from outside of India. This is a clear attempt at inflicting damage to the society and the nation from within. The Maoists are carrying out the agenda of anti-India forces. This is a clear case of sedition. Any Maoist caught must be tried as an enemy of the state. If we do not take punitive action now, we are endangering the lives of our own citizens and also retarding the economic growth of the country. Parts of India where the Maoists are active have seen a marked slowdown in economic activity. Investments have dried up and people do not want to start any new ventures in these regions. This may further lead to poverty, illiteracy and hunger. The Maoists pose as if they are the saviors of the masses but they camouflage their agenda in rhetoric. And their agenda is simple. They want to weaken the country from within. Peru took decades to come out of the clutches of the Shining Path guerillas who were also Maoists. There are examples galore. The state must put all its might in crushing these ultras before they devour the nation.

Should Kobad Ghandy be prosecuted for the murder of Francis Induwar. Come to think of it, the capture of Ghandy led to the killing of Induwar by Ghandy’s comrades. He is directly or indirectly a party to the murder. Besides Ghandy is no ordinary worker of the Maoist outfit. He was in the politburo and had at least nine aliases that he used from time to time. A tit for tat response will be in order. Apologists for Ghandy may say that he has not murdered anyone himself, but then neither has Osama nor has Hafiz Saeed. It is the ideologues who are more dangerous. The man needs to be dealt severely.  The one and only reason I would give Ghandy a second chance is that he is a Parsee and the Parsee community’s contribution to the Indian society has been so profound that one must pause and think before taking any extreme step. It is amazing that a Parsee could fall prey to such blatant rhetoric. However, that is not to say that the man must be given a clean chit. Relevant cases must be registered and he must be tried in a court of law. The man is no ordinary criminal.

By the way, has anyone noticed the stony silence from all the Left parties in this sordid affair, right from the time the Maoists first appeared on the scene? Not a word of condemnation from anyone of them.

Update 7.10.2009: While there are reports that a Maoist leader had called a local newspaper in Ranchi for a possible swap of Francis Induwar for Kobad Ghandy and two other Maoists, the Home Minister has rejected any such development and has said that no such proposal was made. He further goes on to clarify that Kobad Ghandy is under a court jurisdiction and any move for a swap was therefore not possible. There are also reports that Kobad Ghandy in his ‘confessional statement’ has said that he was only an ‘ideologue’ and never participated in any kind of violence. It seems that efforts to give the man a light sentence have already begun. A swap would have given the wrong signals.

Update 21.10.2009: After a spate of Maoist violence in Gadchiroli, Midnapore and Dantewada the government had announced that they will ensure that these ultras are neutralized. However, nothing has happened on the ground. On the contrary the Home Minister, Mr. P. Chidambram has offered an olive branch to the Maoists and said that he was ready to talk to them if they abjure violence. Such soft pedaling of a serious issue such as the challenge to the authority of the state should be taken up in right earnest. Such postures only help embolden these ultras who have motives that are not in sync with the aspirations of the nation.

Update 08.11.2009: In a first such comment by any Indian official, union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai Sunday said he was ‘sure’ that Maoist guerrillas in India were acquiring weapons from China.

The leftist guerrillas follow ‘the philosophy of Marxism and Leninism and have their own brand of ideology. The Chinese are large suppliers of small arms and I am sure the Maoists get it from them’, Pillai told reporters here. Source: IANS

What was widely believed has now been seconded by Indian administration. This is a proxy war being waged by our neighbors up north. It would be good if China refrains from backing Maoist ultras and the various factions in  the north east that are fomenting trouble for India since decades. That will be a huge step in normalizing relations between the two Asian giants.

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