Kobad Ghandy, member of the politburo of CPI (Maoist) was arrested at Bhikaji Kama Place, New Delhi. He had come to Delhi for treatment. Anuradha, his wife and a staunch member of the party died of Cerebral Malaria in April last year. Anuradha was the sister of the famous theatre personality Sunil Shanbag.
Kobad Ghandy studied at the Doon School and St. Xavier College in Bombay. He later went to London to complete his Chartered Accountancy. From 1975 – 1977 he started a Human Rights Group, Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights in Mumbai. The late seventies and early eighties showed Kobad’s inclination towards communism.
Kobad came from a well off Parsee family of Worli, Mumbai. Sometimes during the eighties he married Anuradha, an academic and an activist who shared the same feelings about exploitation of India’s landless with him.
They left their comfortable abode, the sprawling house in Worli and immersed themselves in the tribal politics of Nagpur. It is strange that the RSS with its head quarters in Nagpur hardly did any attempt to better the lives of the landless and the tribals of Nagpur.
Kobad was affected deeply by the inequality in India, the great divide between haves and have-nots. He later shifted to Chhattisgarh where he and his wife devoted in starting mobile Gramin Schools in the most inaccessible areas of Chhattisgarh. He is the intellectual face of a communist movement which remains un-united in the face varying adversities.
Kobad was unlike Charu Mazumdar, Kanu Sanyal or even Vinod Mishra who were embedded to the extent of ordering the party cadres to strike against capitalists. If Kobad was involved in so called ‘revolutionary activity’ he would have stayed ‘underground’. But instead he roamed around the capital freely without any bodyguard.
When asked about Naxalites and their armed struggle, he laughed, ‘there is no armed struggle, only protection of our villages with vintage rifles from the corrupt police force. Some of the political groups in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have arms that even the Indian army don’t have’.
Cases registered against him in Nagpur and Chandrapur are only due to his calling the tribals to resist against landlords and police forces.
At the NDTV’s programme, ‘The Buck Stops Here’ tonight, Naxalite Poet Gadar sang in praise of Kobad.
Till the poorest of the poor in India whose rice would be snatched even before they eat, who would die of many long hungers, whose disease infested body would crawl out of a hut only once to share the last sun, people like Kobad Ghandy would forever be there.
Kobad Ghandy remains one of the many intellectuals who dared to question the government and were incarcerated in jails instead. Baba Ramdev has never heard about Kobad nor has Anna and his close group of friends.
Illustration by the author