earlier this week, he was Haryana's powerful minister in-charge of
home affairs with the entire police force at his beck and call. In
a matter of just three days, Gopal Kanda became a fugitive
himself, running away from the law.
Kanda, now a former minister but still a legislator in Haryana,
could not have imagined that things would change so fast for him.
But the suicide by 23-year-old Geetika Sharma, a former flight
attendant of his now-defunct MDLR airlines, in Delhi last week was
the game-changer. She named Kanda in her suicide note and the
Sirsa legislator was stripped of his portfolio.
This was not the first time that Kanda had left the Bhupinder
Singh Hooda-led government in Haryana embarrassed.
Always a controversial figure, his ascent from a school drop-out
and petty businessman to one of the richest and most influential
people in Haryana's politics - all within a span of just two
decades - shows how Kanda used the system for his own gains.
A billionaire politician now, Kanda's penchant for high life could
be seen from his sprawling fort-like farmhouse on the outskirts of
Sirsa town spread over several acres and touted to be worth Rs.100
crore, as well as other properties in Gurgaon and nearby places.
There were also the expensive luxury SUVs, gun-toting police
commandos and even bouncers around him.
Added to that were his flashy businesses - an airline, casino and
On the run from Delhi Police after Geetika Sharma committed
suicide last week in her Delhi apartment and named him and another
executive, Aruna Chadha, as her tormentors who drove her to commit
suicide, Kanda has always managed to be a newsmaker for all the
When Hooda, compelled to take the support of independent
legislators to come back to power in Haryana in October 2009,
decided to induct Kanda as a minister in his government, it was a
known fact that Kanda had criminal cases pending against him. He
was given the home portfolio with the Haryana Police directly
Kanda joining Hooda's bandwagon was equally controversial. He had
to be given protection by paramilitary forces and escorted out of
Sirsa town in his aircraft to enable him to join Hooda. Kanda had
expressed fears of a threat to his life from opposition leaders.
In 2010, Kanda was caught on video asking his police commandos to
beat up and fire at shopkeepers who were observing a strike in
Sirsa town. He was shown repeatedly using abusive language
standing on the door of his official car with the tricolour flag
In July last year, his security men beat up former cricketer Atul
Wassan on the Delhi-Gurgaon highway. Wassan had reportedly
overtaken his motorcade and Kanda did not like it.
Kanda's staff had beaten up some income tax officials who had
raided his premises in Haryana two years ago.
Last year, he had a public spat with the Congress MP from Sirsa,
Ashok Tanwar, at a political function in Hooda's presence.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)