In a scene from the 1966 Clint Eastwood film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the villain, Angel Eyes, points to a cooperative swindle orchestrated by Eastwood (Blondie) and Eli Wallach (Tuco) whereby the duo hoodwink the law enforcers of a wild American town. Pointing to Tuco, who is about to be hanged, Angel Eyes tells a woman: “Even a rat like him has a guardian angel.” Blondie is ready with a gun to help his bandit friend Tuco escape from the law.
Kobad Ghandy, 63, a politburo member of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), is the new Tuco around the corner. He was arrested in New Delhi on Sunday. Since then, the Delhi Police and the government have been on the receiving end from lawyers and elite civil rights activists who are making Ghandy appear a victim and the government something worse than a violator of the rights of citizens.
The facts are very different. The CPI (Maoist) is a banned organization that is engaged in terrorist activities across the country. Ghandy is part of its leadership and bears moral, if not actual, responsibility for the violence unleashed by party members. The determination of his guilt is a matter for police investigation. Yet within hours of his arrest, there was a furore against the police and the Union government.
The reality is that there are subtle class distinctions at work even among the Maoists and their sympathizers. Ghandy, who hails from a rich Parsi family in Mumbai and is well educated, is among the six senior CPI (Maoist) leaders who have been arrested in recent years. Yet he is the only such leader against whose arrest protest has been voiced. For example, when Malla Raji Reddy, a central committee member, was arrested in late 2007, there were no protests. In the gilded world of our elite civil rights activists and lawyers, others are the children of a lesser god.
There is, however, no escaping from the facts. Today, the Maoists are the single biggest threat to progress in large parts of India. Infrastructure building, development projects and even the simple act of electing people’s representatives are well-nigh impossible in many parts of the country. How can Ghandy’s rights be squared with the denial of the rights of many? Our intellectuals should answer that.
Has Kobad Ghandy been victimized? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org