September 23, 2009 1:16:48 pm
They had not seen him in years but today,when the frail,white-haired,60-plus was being led away by police,many recognised Kobad Ghandy instantly. There was no mistaking him despite the white hair he was the Doon School boy from the huge house at Worli Seaface in Bombay who went on to chase chartered accountancy in London before quitting it all to return home.
And after all these years,he was suddenly on TV screens,arrested for being a key politburo member of the outlawed CPI (Maoist). Police said Ghandy was assigned the task of spreading Maoist influence in urban areas,running its publication wing. He was also alleged to have been in touch with global ultra-Left organisations.
The transformation of Ghandy always puzzled friends who recalled his privileged childhood from a well-to-do Parsi family in Worli Seaface. His father was a top official in a big pharmaceutical company. They were affluent,had a huge house and quite a lifestyle in Bombay then, said one of his friends.
Ghandy rarely spoke about his childhood and early education. Everyone knew he was from Doon School but he never said it himself, said Soma Sen,friend and activist.
In the early Seventies,Ghandy was studying chartered accountancy in London when revolutionary literature consumed him. A Delhi University professor,who saw him on TV,recalled how I would often bump into Ghandy in the London tube… he would talk about political conditions in India… he was lean,would dress simple and sound like a revolutionary.
He said Ghandy would always talk about quitting the CA course,of returning to India to work in its interiors. I last saw him in Bombay in 1974. He was working as a civil rights activist. I never agreed with his politics but he was committed to his ideology. When I saw him on TV,I kept staring at the screen. He was the same person I used to meet in London.
In the late Seventies and early Eighties,Ghandy was in Nagpur with wife Anuradha,working for the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR). Soma Sen recalled how he used to be active with trade unions and worker unions but would always have time to discuss Tolstoy and Satyajit Ray with students. Anuradha,a sociology post-graduate herself,died of cerebral malaria a year ago.
Ghandy,it is alleged,preached Maoism in Pune,Nagpur,Mumbai,Nashik,Raipur,Patna,Bhubaneswar and Ranchi. In Jharkhand police records,his crime portfolio reads Nil. But the state police,it is learnt,prepared his sketch and alerted their counterparts in Delhi. He is a very big catch. We are sure of getting a sea of information on Maoists, IG(Special Branch) B B Pradhan told The Indian Express.
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