Indian Vanguard

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Archive for September 24th, 2009

Lalgarh: Maoists put up three condition for peace talk

Posted by Admin on September 24, 2009

19june27r copy LalgarhmKOLKATA: The banned CPI (Maoist), which is leading a movement in Lalgarh and the entire Jangalmahal zone for the past one year, has put up three
key conditions for joining talks with the Left Front government in West Bengal.

Maoist politburo member in charge of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Orissa, Kishenji alias Koteswar Rao told ET on Thursday they would not mind holding talks with the government, but on three conditions.

“We want the immediate withdrawal of joint forces from Lalgarh and the entire Jangalmahal area, want unconditional release of 60-odd women who were arrested from Lalgarh and the release of those poor villagers who were implicated falsely in various criminal cases,” Kishenji said on Thursday.

The Maoist leader, however, ruled out the possibility of surrendering arms to pave the way for a dialogue with the state government. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and CPIM state secretary Biman Bose had earlier urged the Maoists to surrender arms and give up the path of killings to hold talks with the government.

“How can we surrender arms ? We believe in an armed revolution and it is impossible for us to give up arms. The CPIM is asking us to surrender arms knowing fully well our political ideology of armed struggle. The CPIM believes in parliamentary democracy. Will it be possible for them to shun the path of parliamentary democracy ?,” asked the fugitive Maoist leader. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Kobad’s interest never waned’: Adv. P A Sebastian

Posted by Admin on September 24, 2009

COMRADE: Human Rights Advocate P A Sebastian, a friend of Kobad Ghandy.

By: Alisha Coelho Date: 2009-09-24 Place: Mumbai

A friend of Ghandy arrested on Sunday for ‘waging war against the nation’ says he was pushed to the point of no return

It was just a few years ago, that Mumbai-based human rights advocate P A Sebastian had sat down with a couple, ‘old friends’ for chai at Resham Bhavan in Churchgate.

“They were happy doing what they were doing. I never got the feeling that they regretted taking the road less travelled,” said Sebastian.

The friends were the Ghandys, Kobad and his late wife Anuradha. Kobad hit the headlines yesterday after he was arrested in New Delhi on Sunday. Read the rest of this entry »

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Kobad Ghandy was an inspiration, say friends

Posted by Admin on September 24, 2009

REVOLUTIONARIES: Advocate Susan Gonsalves with husband Vernon

By: Ketan Ranga Date: 2009-09-24 Place: Mumbai

I met Kobad Ghandy from my early days in college when he was working in Nagpur and I was in Chandrapur.

I met him for the last time in 1993,” says Mumbai advocate Susan Gonzalves, who said they were revolutionaries, working for change in society.

Susan’s husband Vernon, who was also arrested from Mumbai on August 17, 2007, for allegedly being a state committee member of the Naxals. Bandra boy Arun Ferreira was arrested three months before her husband. Read the rest of this entry »

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Arrest won’t end Naxal movement’: Varavara Rao

Posted by Admin on September 24, 2009

Varavara raoDaipayan Halder Date: 2009-09-24 Place: Delhi

Poet, professor and Marxist critic, Varavara Rao has been the face of the Naxalite movement in Andhra Pradesh for almost four decades now. In an exclusive interview with Daipayan Halder, he spoke on Kobad Ghandy’s arrest and the future of the Naxal movement

Kobad Ghandy is a prize catch for security agencies. Is it a body blow to the movement?
Kobad is a central committee member of the CPI (Maoist) and a top ideologue. It is undoubtedly a huge loss for the movement. But one leader getting arrested won’t affect naxalism. But it is a loss to the ideological debate within the party.

Hard Talk: Varavara RaoAre you saying it is more an ideological loss than a strategic loss? The police seem confident of getting vital information out of him.
In our party, it is the same thing. Ideology and strategy are not watertight compartments. And as I said, the police won’t be able to end naxalism by arresting one leader. Read the rest of this entry »

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The new face of Naxalism

Posted by Admin on September 24, 2009

CMAS OrissaThe arrest of Kobad Ghandy has sent a shock wave nationwide. What was the London- educated son of an ice-cream magnate doing in the top echelons of the Communist Party of India ( Maoist)? Indeed, a look at the leadership of the Naxalite movement today does make Ghandy appear a little out of place.

But that is not how the revolution began. Many of Ghandy’s comrades in the 1970s – the time he joined the still nascent uprising – were intellectuals born with a silver spoon in their mouth.

Like Ghandy, they were the alumni of premier institutes such as Kolkata’s Presidency College and Jadavpur University.

Like Ghandy, they left their affluent backgrounds to pour into the villages and arouse the destitute to join a Maoist struggle.

Unlike Ghandy, however, most of them drifted away from the hard life of a revolutionary once the police crackdown began. Read the rest of this entry »

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Passionate, scholarly, logical: Kobad Ghandy’s friends look back on his student days

Posted by Admin on September 24, 2009

Former associates in Mumbai have fond memories of the times they spent with Maoist leader Kobad Ghandy and his wife Anuradha before they shifted to Nagpur in the early 1980s, soon after which they went underground.

Ghandy, 63, has been arrested in Delhi. Anuradha died of malaria last year in a tribal area of Maharashtra. She was 54.

Senior journalist Jatin Desai, who was part of the youth movement, recalls his association with Ghandy from 1977-79. “Kobad was extraordinarily intelligent and well read. We used to gather on the Mumbai University campus and sit near Rajabai Tower because we could not afford meetings at restaurants. We used to be a bunch of 20 youngsters discussing politics, human rights, and international revolutions and dreaming of a new world. Kobad was passionate but he did not propagate violence aggressively.”

Ghandy and Anuradha formed the Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR) in 1978 after the Emergency. Activist Jyoti Punwani, who was the editor of CPDR’s magazine Adhikar Raksha, remembers Kobad as an influential writer. “Adhikar Raksha was primarily about human rights and Kobad wrote strong articles about economics and exploitation of the poor,” said Punwani, who was a close friend of Anuradha at Elphinstone College.

Ghandy’s sense of justice was accurate, according to close friend Asghar Ali Engineer, writer and activist. “I did not know he was planning to join a political party when we were together at CPDR in the late 1970s. He is an ideologue for the CPI (Maoist), a scholarly person. He is very soft-spoken and a thorough gentleman. I can’t believe he led violent operations,” Engineer said.

Dr Ritu Diwan, professor of economics at Mumbai University, was part of the core group of the CPDR in the early 1980s. “Kobad played a key role in mobilising youth movements. At youth meetings when an argument would heat up, his calm intervention would settle matters. He was not bossy but his logic was spot on. He was known for his vision and sense of humour,” Diwan said.

Within a few years, most members had left the CPDR. “Most of us went on with our lives and chose to settle down in various professions but Kobad and Anuradha carried on,” Diwan said.

Anuradha’s brother Sunil Shanbag, a theatre actor, recalls the Ghandys as studious and academic. “Most of their time would be spent reading and writing. It was not just plain passion and valour but sensibility and intelligence with which they pursued their endeavour. Kobad is scholarly and I would enjoy listening to him talking about politics and injustice,” Shanbag said.

Anuradha’s mother Kumud Shanbag, 84, who works with an NGO, said, “We would communicate with Anuradha and Kobad once a year after they went underground. In fact I did not even know that she was suffering from malaria before I got news of her death. I never opposed her decisions and I am proud of both of them,” Shanbag said. IE

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Kobad Ghandy illegally detained for seven days

Posted by Admin on September 24, 2009

Holes in Maoist arrest date claim

New Delhi, Sept. 23: A top Maoist leader who Delhi police claimed they had arrested on Sunday was picked up seven days earlier, a source who met the suspected rebel scout in Tihar jail revealed today.

The source said the Doon School-educated Khobad Ghandy, believed to be a politburo member of the banned CPI (Maoist), was held on September 13, not September 20 as the cops claimed while confirming the arrest yesterday.

If the allegation is true, it would mean the 58-year-old was illegally detained in police custody for seven days.

The law says the police have to produce before a magistrate anyone they pick up within 24 hours of the arrest.

The source said he spoke to Ghandy at 2 this afternoon from behind a window amid the chaos of home minister P. Chidambaram’s visit to the jail.

“The microphone wasn’t working properly and we couldn’t hear what he was saying clearly. When we asked him if he was arrested on September 20, he vehemently said no, we could hear that. He also gestured and said he was arrested long before that,” the source added.

Ghandy, according to the source, also revealed that he was picked up from Bikaji Cama Place in south Delhi the same day he had come to know that he was suffering from prostrate cancer. Two city hospitals, AIIMS and the government-run Safdarjung, are a stone’s throw from the area.

The Maoist leader, who according to sources also has a heart problem, said he was waiting for a contact, but refused to reveal his name.

Sources said Ghandy could have come to the capital for treatment and not to recruit cadre as some police officials have suggested.

Tihar, which reopened today after a long holiday, is yet to provide Ghandy with any medication either for his heart condition or for his cancer.

Sources said the Maoist leader had been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for being part of a banned group. “There is no FIR in the country that names him in any case. He has just been booked under the UAPA and not for any other crime,” said his lawyer Rajesh Tyagi, who also confirmed that Ghandy had indicated that he was arrested on September 13.

Police sources, however, suggested that Ghandy had also been booked for being part of the workers’ protest that rocked the Honda factory in July 2005.

“He didn’t show any anxiety and seemed glad that we had come to meet him. Our greatest concern is about his health and, hopefully, the lawyer assigned to him by the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners would look into that,” said activist Guatam Nawlakha, who also met Ghandy.

If convicted under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Ghandy could be jailed for a maximum of two years for being a member of a banned outfit, unless charges of sedition and waging war against the nation are slapped on him.

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Centre for new war on Maoists,

Posted by Admin on September 24, 2009

The Hindu

Riding high on the recent arrest of senior Maoist leader Kopad Ghandy, the Manmohan Singh government is considering a major escalation of its war against Maoist insurgents across the country.

In an interaction with reporters accompanying the Prime Minister to the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, official sources said the Home Ministry’s proposal for the use of special forces, including air power, was being considered by the appropriate committees and no decision had been taken as yet. While a strong case had been made out for the greater use of force against the naxalites, the government was evaluating the downsides of such a strategy. “The question is whether we can calibrate the government’s use of violence,” the sources said.

“You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs… [But] if we end up killing many more tribals in the process, there will be problems.”

By way of illustration, the sources drew attention to the recent report by General Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of the United States forces in Afghanistan, which linked mounting civilian casualties in the war against the Taliban to the use of air power by the U.S. and its allies.

The sources criticised what they said was the media’s unwillingness to focus on the violence perpetrated by the Maoists. “Despite the fact that naxalites have been carrying out the worst atrocities, there is very little public outcry. When Kopad Ghandy is arrested, we see intellectuals are protecting him. But when tribals are killed by the Maoists, the intellectuals and NGOs [are silent.]”

Asked about the need for dialogue with the Maoists, the sources said this had been experimented with between 2004 and 2006. “Today, there are no offers from their side and I am not sure any purpose will be served either.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Kobad Ghandy: Conversation with a Naxalite

Posted by Admin on September 24, 2009

By arzan sam wadia ⋅ September 24, 2009 ⋅ Email This Page ⋅ Print This Post ⋅ Post a comment

Kobad Ghandy’s recent arrest has made waves. After all, it’s not every day that one encounters a Naxal leader who hails from an affluent Parsi family, has studied in some of India’s best educational institutions and also done a CA from London. Despite his unusual background, he became a leading Naxal ideologue. In an exclusive interview a few days before his arrest, he spoke of the reasons for the recent surge of Naxalism across the country.

The Bastar region of Chhattisgarh is emerging as a Maoist bastion, and you seem to be giving extra emphasis on schools there?

Not schools but education. We are trying to give basic education through Mobile Academic Schools (MAS). Teaching basic sciences, mathematics and indigenous languages. Teams involved in the process are specialising in designing courses for the people who are backward, so that they can learn faster.

We are taking extra care to improve health facilities, as well. For example, wherever we work, we have told the tribals to boil drinking water. It has reduced diseases & death by 50%. Even independent NGOs have said so. Child mortality decreased because we have managed to empower women to an extent. The level of under-development in Bastar and all these areas is worse than, as some indicators suggest, sub-Saharan Africa.

Are you saying, you are not killers but benefactors?

Yes. But we are defined by the Prime Minister as the deadliest virus….(laughs)

Why do you think so?

We have a clear-cut definition of development. We think society is in a semi-feudal, semi-colonial state and there is a need to democratize it. The first step is to distribute land to the tiller. So in plain words, our fight is against land grab and exploitation of poor, especially focussing rural India.

Is that why you have managed to consolidate so strongly in Chhattisgarh?

One important reason we have managed to consolidate is because we talk about dignity of work. For example, villagers in Bastar collect the tendu-patta leafs to make local cigarettes or bidis. This bidi industry runs into billions of dollars. But the daily wage of these tribals …. was less than Rs 10 a day, before we came to Chhattisgarh. That is far less than the daily wage defined by even the government of India. We have forced these contractors to increase this daily wage — we have managed to push it up by three to four times. That is one reason why people like us.

But you have proper military wings?

I can’t tell you much about that. I don’t deal with that and don’t even know their members.

You are talking about development.

Will you be open to the idea — if government extends development to these areas?

Why not? We have not opposed some developmental works in Bastar. For example, we did not oppose building of some schools in Bastar. But if they build schools to convert those to army barracks — which India always did in various places — we will oppose it.

So you will do politics on the basis of guns?

Guns is a non-issue. I can tell you with absolute certainty that some villages of Uttar Pradesh or Bihar have got more guns than the entire Maoist force in the country. What the government or some section fears is the ideology, communism and the society we seek to build up. So we are projected as criminals.

Do you think it is possible to hold on to your bastions in the face of the offensive against you?

It’s a difficult battle. But with capitalism and the government colliding with each other — with American economy going into recession and increase of exploitation — we do hope to consolidate.

So the Naxals will never participate in mainstream politics?

No. Because we believe, a democracy which respects people cannot be established in this country under the given system.

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Theatre director comes to defence of brother-in-law, Kobad Ghandy

Posted by Admin on September 24, 2009

MUMBAI: Extremely intense and committed to the cause, Kobad Ghandy —described as a Maoist leader by the Delhi police who arrested him last Sunday
— returned to India to work among the downtrodden unlike many of his contemporaries who chose to stay back in the West, according to his brother-in-law, Sunil Shanbhag.

‘‘Back home, he struggled with the culture and language to function at the grassroots. But he was very sharp-minded and non-judgmental,’’ said Shanbhag, who is a theatre director.

Speaking at length to TOI on Wednesday, Shanbhag said the tall, gangly man married his sister, Anuradha, in the late seventies. A few years into the marriage, the couple permanently moved out of Mumbai and shifted to Nagpur where they were involved in organising contract labourers in power and coal plants at Chandrapur.

‘‘These labourers were at the mercy of big contractors and had no legal protection. But soon, pressure started building up on them and harassment grew — activists were being picked up by the police at the behest of politicians who were close to these contractors,’’ he said. ‘‘After 1983, we were hardly in touch with them,’’ said Shanbhag, who recently directed the play, Cotton 56, Polyester 84, on Mumbai’s mill workers.

By the early 1990s, the couple finally went underground. ‘‘After that, they were without a fixed location. The police would frequently knock on our doors,’’ he added.

Kobad and Anuradha shared interests. She was from Elphinstone College; he from St Xaviers. In fact, Anuradha was a part-time lecturer in sociology in several colleges such as Jhunjhunwala and Wilson. They were deeply involved in the Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights of which Kobad was one of the founders.

Kobad grew up in a large, rambling house at Worli sea face, but Shanbhag recollects the building was largely decrepit with the balcony propped up with bamboos. His sister, Maharukh, ran a family hotel in Mahableshwar with her husband. Kobad’s late brother, Farokh, ran an ice-cream unit, and some claim the Ghandys were the first to introduce fresh fruit strawberry ice-cream in Mumbai. His father Adi Ghandy was a senior finance executive in Glaxo.

‘‘Interestingly, he had the most supportive father, who backed the cause and was proud of Kobad. In fact, the father, influenced by Kobad, changed his own lifestyle and shed his corporate culture and led a spartan life,’’ said Shanbhag.

Adi and his wife Nergis — both deceased — moved out of their Worli house and shifted to Panchgani. ‘‘It was a typical upper-class family, but very warm and not snobbish,’’ he recollects. ‘‘No doubt, Kobad was part of the Naxal movement. But to arrest one man and say he was responsible for violence in the entire country is ridiculous. The Indian state is engaging in tremendous violence against its own people in collusion with big business,’’ said Shanbhag.

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