Even as the hunt for Gopal Kanda continues amidst the blare of media’s war-horn, Daily Post writer MadhuSudan Sahoo brings forth the man alleged to be behind a 23- year-old’s suicide
Gopal Goyal alias Gopal Kanda, a Sisra-based businessman, who enjoyed plum and lavish portfolios including that of minister of state for urban local bodies and minister of home affairs in Haryana Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s cabinet is much in news nowadays. And well, not really for the right reasons.
Kanda has been accused of abetting suicide of his former employee, 23-year-old Geetika Sharma. He has been dodging the police for several days now. As reports of several raids pour in, it is being speculated that he may either get arrested or surrender in court on Monday.
Although he was a school dropout, a close aide says, he managed to succeed in his many ventures with boundless ambition and canny networking.
“Even in his ‘20s, he was very hard working. Considering that education was never high on his priority list, he failed several times in school. But, he always dreamt of getting rich overnight. If he failed in one venture, he tries his luck in another,” said one of his close aides in Delhi.
Kanda’s first venture, in the early ‘80s, was a TV repair shop in Sirsa, which is a stronghold of former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, who, villagers say, played a key role in his meteoric rise. Kanda’s brother Govind also helped him rise in life as well. Thereafter, he tried his hand in shoe business which proved to be a great money spinner.
“When he saw a slight dip in the profits in that shop, he tried his luck at the footwear business by starting a factory, and a showroom called Shoe Camp,” the source added.
Kanda has seen many ups and down’s in his life. His slipper factory was sealed in 1993 for a default of Rs 11 lakh loan.
In 2005, he developed an interest in designer clothes and opened a showroom for women’s apparel, besides starting an export business. Around that time, he developed contacts with INLD leaders, especially the Chautalas so as to get into politics.
Realising his dream to be known as a corporate giant, he started his own airline company on March 14, 2007, which was owned by Murli Dhar Lakh Ram (MDLR) Group with around 250 employees. The airline was started in the middle of a major growth period for Indian aviation, but was launched just as oil prices were climbing. However, they could not pay the British Aerospace BAe for their Avro RJ70 aircraft and wound up.
In 2008, income tax officials raided his Gurgaon and Sirsa offices. Seventeen of his aides were convicted by a Sirsa court. When the airline faced immense losses, Kanda pursued his political dream. But INLD supremo, Om Prakash Chautala was reluctant to give him a ticket during the assembly elections. He decided to contest as an independent body from Sirsa (City) constituency in October 2009. He won the polls.
“His unexpected win in the elections earned him much success in life and now, he wanted to play as a kingmaker in Haryana,” an INLD leader said.
Congress managed to win only 40 seats in a House of 90, falling short by six seats to absolute majority. “Kanda roped in the support of six independent MLAs and helped Congress form the government in Haryana. He was rewarded with the designation of minister of state for home,” he added.
With power and wealth in hand, there was nothing to stop Kanda. In 2008, he was accused of assaulting income tax officials who raided his home in Sirsa to evaluate his property and assets. He was also accused for assaulting people who protested against erratic power supply in Sirsa in 2010, in which the Supreme Court on Thursday asked Kanda to respond to a petition. And further in July 2011, his security guards beat up former cricketer Atul Wassan for overtaking Kanda’s car.
Besides, as many as nine cases are criminal complaints under Section 138, of Negotiable Instruments Act, filed against his companies, wherein Kanda had signed bounced cheques as authorized signatory in the capacity of a director. Documents revealed that four cases were filed by Cosmo Builders Pvt Limited against Believe Constructions Pvt Ltd, the firm, whose director was Kanda. These are pending in Tees Hazari court, New Delhi. Likewise, three cases are pending in the court of Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMIC) Bathinda. Two cases were lodged by Chavan Rishi Pvt Limited. While the third case was lodged by BCL Securities and Jewellers against Nageshwar Builders Pvt Ltd, of which Kanda was again the director of the company.
However, Geetika Sharma’s suicide case has become tough for Kanda. Her August 4 suicide note, in which she had said that she was “shattered from inside” as her trust was broken. She also wrote that Kanda was a ‘fraud’, and held him and his aide Aruna Chaddah responsible for her death.
“As Chaddah has been arrested by the Delhi police, the truth about Kanda will be public soon,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) P Karunakaran.
When asked about Kanda’s arrest, he added, “Despite our night operations, we still haven’t been able to find him. We are still carrying out search operations in Haryana and other places.”
However, the other day, Haryana Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda said that he was no more a member of his cabinet now, as he had already resigned. “Kanda’s hiding is not fair and he should surrender to the police as soon as possible,” said Hooda.
However, isn’t it surprising that despite his past record, Hooda offered Kanda an over-the-top portfolio in his cabinet?
“His ability to win over people and his unaccounted wealth might have attracted Hooda to offer him such a post in his cabinet. More or less, Hooda thought his wealth, power and popularity will keep him going and did not want to lose out on the vote bank,” said a Congress MLA on the condition of anonymity.
Kanda’s counsel KTS Tulsi said Geetika’s suicide note showed “an element of jealousy and mixed emotions of love and hatred” towards his client.
Amidst the development in these situations, Hooda was forced to intervene into the matter. “If media had not highlighted Geetika’s case, it would have been hushed,” said the MLA.
On the other hand, Geetika’s family said, “At any cost, Kanda wanted to keep Geetika close to him. He was doing everything to achieve his goal but Geetika wanted him out of her life. So she ended her life,” said one of the family members.
On being asked about Kanda’s closeness to their family, her brother Ankit said, “Our family met Kanda in 2008. At that time, Geetika was working as a ground handling staff. That’s when Kanda came to our house for the first time. However, Kanda said that he was on his way from Sirsa to Delhi and only came for a cordial meeting. That time too, our family told him that if he visits us anytime in future, he must come with his family and not alone,” added Ankit.
Even after Delhi police confirmed Haryana former minister’s absconding and co-accused Aruna Chadha’s arrest on Wednesday, Kanda did not present himself for hearing in front of Delhi police on August 8. Following which, a non-bailable warrant was issued against him on August 9. Kanda had also applied for anticipatory bail. On August 9, the Delhi District and Sessions court rejected his bail plea.
As look-out notice has been issued against him and police sent a team to Siliguri where his in-laws live, but came empty handed. His brother subsequently announced that Kanda would present himself to Delhi Police on Monday.
As far as Kanda’s present status is concerned, he is still off the hook. Police say he can be arrested any time soon. Even National Commission for Women (NCW) has taken up the case seriously and its team visited Geetika’s parents late on Friday evening and collected more details.
However, a media trainer in Delhi blamed the media for its slow reporting in the matter. “Geetika case is as strong as murder case. I do not understand why the media is so slow. Had it been Hooda’s daughter, action could have been as prompt as it could have been,” said Vartika Nanda, a media trainer and social activist from Delhi.
Blaming the police, she said, “Even police action is not satisfactory. Even after 4-5 days of the confirmation, they have not been able to arrest the culprit. Kanda’s contacts may be the main reason why the police and government are silent,” added Nanda.
However, sources in crime branch, said that it was being assumed that Kanda could be in Chandigarh or Sirsa. On Thursday, a team of Delhi police headed by an assistant commissioner of police had raided the Sisra residence of Kanda and even asked his mother about his whereabouts, but they had to return empty-handed again.
As of now, the high drama of chasing Kanda is still on. Let’s wait and watch…