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Maoist leader Kobad Ghandy, an unlikely rebel

Posted by Admin on September 23, 2009

Kobad ghandyMUMBAI: He was an unlikely rebel — from an affluent Parsi family, alumnus of Doon School and St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, and trained in accountancy in England. Kobad Ghandy, 58, could well have been on boards of several companies.However, he went on to become one of the top Naxalite leaders in the country and a politburo member of the banned CPI(Maoist).

Ghandy, who was arrested from Bhikaji Cama Place in south Delhi on Sunday, was among the young urban elite enticed by the romance of classless society and fled his gilt-edged life to join the radical Naxal movement in the late 1960s and 70s. However, unlike most others who ended their dalliance with Naxalism quickly, Ghandy remained committed to the ‘cause’.

Born and brought up in Mumbai, Ghandy’s father was managing director in a multinational company. His brother had an ice-cream factory and Ghandy used to help him in the business. Although not many Mumbai Parsis have heard about him, one old-timer from the community, who vaguely remembers the family, spoke of an incident during Ghandy’s growing up years in a sprawling family bungalow in Worli Sea Face.

Anuradha Gandhi

Anuradha Gandhi

It so happened that one day, an expensive gold watch was missing at the Ghandys’. When they asked young Kobad about it, he casually said he had given it away to a servant. Ghandy became one of the leading figures in the city’s radical Left movement during the mid-70s and in the post-emergency years.

“He was essentially an intellectual and part of various anti-Emergency movements in the city,’’ said an associate from those days. He was a founding member of the Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights.

“He gave up many creature comforts to be part of the movement. Kobad was in total self-denial then,’’ recollects a former associate. In England, he got involved in Left-wing politics but was soon arrested and deported. By 1982, he had left Mumbai along with wife Anuradha, a sociology professor and fellow Maoist who died last year of cerebral malaria.

In the CPI(Maoist), Ghandy was entrusted with responsibilities of propaganda, agitation and publicity, and played a pivotal role in the urban spread of the organization. He was inspired by Kondapalli Seetharamaiah to join the then CPI(M-L) People’s War Group in Andhra Pradesh. Seetharamaiah’s vision was to spread the movement in Maharashtra and TN. Ghandy’s preference to work in urban areas had triggered a clash between him and Seetharamaiah. He drifted towards T Nagi Reddy’s UCCRI-CPML in the later part of the 80s. In 1994, Ghandy was instrumental in bringing Naxal factional groups like CPI(M-L) Party Unity and People’s War Group to form All India People’s Resistance Forum. TOI

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