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Thursday, November 29, 2012

The day Shiv Sena murdered Comrade Krishna Desai


Excerpt from Gyan Prakash’s Mumbai fables

"According to his family members, the (Shiv) Sena had physically attacked (Krishna) Desai during the 1967 election campaign. He escaped with his life by using his briefcase as a shield. Apparently, Desai knew he was a target. A feared trade unionist and a political leader with deep roots in the neighbourhood, Desai stood between the Sena and the Girgangaon. Anticipating an attack, he decided to send his family away to safety to his village in Ratnagiri. As for himself, he planned to go underground and take the fight to the Sena.

On June 5, 1970, Desai, as usual surrounded by Anil Karnik and others, was winding down for the day in his one-room hutment. His wife had laid out the dinner. Desai took off his shirt and was about to sit down to eat when he was summoned. His party associates wanted to discuss the next day’s planned Lok Seva Dal camping trip. Telling his wife and Karnik that he would be back shortly, Desai walked a few hundred yards down the winding lane to the office of a rice mill.

A mentally challenged man from his neighbourhood interrupted Desai’s conversation with his comrades in the office, informing him that some workers wanted to meet him. The assembled group looked out towards the open field that face the rice mill office. The power was off, and it was raining lightly. At the head of the narrow lane that led out from the field, the silhouettes of a few men were visible. Desai called out to ask who they were. A voice shouted “Jai Bharat” (Hail to India) in response. Desai’s young comrade Prakash Patkar walked towards them. As he neared the group, Patkar saw a few men standing by a car. One of the assembled men had a gupti, a long-bladed weapon tucked under his shirt. Patkar shouted out a warning to Desai, who rushed instantly to his side. Patkar was stabbed. Within seconds, Desai was surrounded and stabbed in the back, with his liver slashed. Having achieved their purpose, the attackers vanished into the darkness. Miraculously, Desai walked to the nearby house of a friend, who rushed him to the hospital, but he succumbed to the fatal wound.”

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