Sunday, August 29, 2010

Maoist classes in Tihar

New Delhi, Aug. 28: The battle to control Maoism has reached the Tihar jail’s barracks.

Exasperated prison authorities are thinking of changing Maoist ideologue Khobad Ghandy’s ward after every two months because he has been propagating ultra-Left ideology among fellow inmates.

Ghandy, 63, has built a captive audience inside Jail No. 3 at Tihar, his home for the past 11 months. He meets fellow inmates, who revere him, every day during his morning and evening walks and often holds “interactive sessions”.

He tells them he had fought for the poor throughout his life and that the government had failed to do anything for the people. The prisoners salute him after every session.

“He is a very good man. He is fighting for the poor and we respect him a lot,” said a 35-year-old inmate of Jail No. 3, a Class X dropout who is facing trial for attempted murder.

Another prisoner, arrested in a blast case in Uttar Pradesh, said: “He (Ghandy) is a very well-read man. He talks of revolution and makes us feel we too should do something for the country.”

Ghandy, a CPI (Maoist) politburo member, was arrested in September 2009 and booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

An inmate of Jail No. 1, who met Ghandy three days ago at a basketball match in the prison, said: “We address him as ‘Sir’ and salute him whenever we see him. We can’t understand why the government is holding him in jail as though he is a terrorist.”

The convict, serving a life term for murdering a relative, added: “I am paying for what I did, but people like Sir should not be treated this way. We are fans of his. He speaks from the heart about the injustices suffered by the poor. We support him for his movement against the government.”

Ghandy’s rising popularity among fellow prisoners is worrying Tihar authorities. A jail official said around 1,500 prisoners — 100 convicts and 1,400 undertrials — were lodged in the 12 wards in Jail No. 3. Ghandy shares his ward with many other prisoners.

“He loves mixing with people and has made several friends inside the jail. But of late his conversation has acquired revolutionary overtones,” the official said. “We are thinking of changing his ward every two months and keeping a watch on his morning and evening walks.”

The official, however, agreed that Ghandy, who is from an upper class background and went to the best educational institutions, was a thorough gentleman.

“He is very enthusiastic and agile for his age. During the basketball match, he was joking with jail officials about many things,” said jail superintendent Vijay Kumar Sharma.

Ghandy had studied at Doon School and St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, before travelling to London to become a chartered accountant. A few years later, he joined the Maoists. He is now believed to be writing a book on his life.

The Telegraph

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