17 June, 2021

Heat of the Cruel Son

Sanjay Gandhi earned every bit of his reputation. But was he a 'murderer' too as Katherine Frank alleges?

Heat of the Cruel Son
By far the most damaging assertions in Katherine Frank's biography of Indira Gandhi do not concern Mrs Gandhi at all. They are about Sanjay Gandhi who, on the basis of uncertain testimony, is said to have masterminded the killings of two well-known figures in 1976-77. After weeks of complaint, the Congress party's threats of action have subsided. The incendiary references, likely to embroil the book in an ugly legal battle, come from other quarters. They will test the veracity of a work that purports to be based on assiduous research and scholarship.

On page 397, in a chapter titled The Rising Son, Frank writes: "Lurid rumours also abounded of how Sanjay's 'hit men' liquidated human targets on his orders. Some of these rumours were true. During 1976 Sanjay arranged for an underworld figure named Sunderlal to be 'eliminated'. One evening two years later Sanjay and his wife Maneka called on Sanjay's close friend, Navin Chawla, who was secretary to the Lt Governor of Delhi. Evidence had come to light implicating Sanjay in Sunderlal's death. Sanjay and Maneka asked Chawla if he...

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