October 14, 2009

Did Kobad Ghandy visit Lalgarh?

Hindustan Times
Kolkata, October 14, 2009
Did Kobad Ghandy, the UK-educated politburo member of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), visit Lalgarh, the place in West Bengal that’s the hub of Naxalite disturbances? To get an answer, a team of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officials from the state is going to Delhi to interrogate the 63-year-old Maoist.

Lalgarh is located 160 km south-west of Kolkata.

The police sensed the possibility of Ghandy having a Lalgarh connection after they learnt from local people about “a very important person of the organisation” visiting the area.

According to the police, the Maoists used to hire a car for this “very important person”.

“The Maoists usually do not take the risk of hiring cars for members of their organisation. But they did it more than once in Lalgarh in March-April — before the Lok Sabha elections. This indicates that the visitor was neither familiar with the area, nor able to negotiate his way through forests,” a top official of the West Bengal police said.

“He was picked up from railway stations nearby like Salboni and Chandrakona Road. At that time many top leaders of CPI (Maoist) gathered in Lalgarh, taking advantage of there being no policemen,” he said.

“During interrogation by the Delhi police, Gandhy mentioned Lalgarh and gave some information about this tribal-dominated region. We cannot reveal these inputs now. We suspect that Gandhy had links with Kolkata,” the police officer said.

Ghandy was arrested in Delhi on September 20.

Though the Delhi police haven’t so far confirmed Gandhy’s visit to Lalgarh, they have sent some inputs about the place they obtained while interrogating him.

“Whether Gandhy visited Lalgarh or not isn’t a big issue. Even if he had, the visit wouldn’t have made much impact on the events there.
But from the way the movement was designed and engineered, it seemed that it received support from urban intellectuals, and that makes the involvement of ideologues like Ghandy likely,” a senior CID official told Hindustan Times.

Gandhy used to get support from urban intellectuals and organised foreign funding.

Immediately after his arrest in Delhi, Koteshwar Rao alias Kishanji, the 50-year-old Maoist leader in Lalgarh, demanded Ghandy’s release.

Before the joint forces of the Centre and the state started operations on June 18 in Lalgarh, the police could not enter the zone for about eight months.

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