The rise and fall of Sirsa’s notorious son Gopal Goyal Kanda

 

Gopal Goyal Kanda

Gopal Goyal Kanda’s ancestors were traders, who weighed vegetables at a wholesale market in Sirsa. In fact, it was this trade that gave the family the surname ‘Kanda’, which in local language refers to the iron weights used by traders.

Today, Kanda, who quit as Haryana’s minister of state for home affairs after former air hostess Geetika Sharma charged him with harassment in her suicide note, carries substantial weight in Bilaspur, his native village in Sirsa where his empire towers over modest huts.

This is quite remarkable for a man who was once reduced to beggary. “When his shoe-manufacturing business flopped, he was left with huge debts. So did his second venture in the form of a shoe showroom. It came to a point where he would ask people for petty amounts like Rs.100,” said a village elder who was at one time politically connected with Kanda.

Shunned by his parents and creditors, in 1998 he took to property business in the emerging city of Gurgaon. Starting with the purchase and sale of small plots, he slowly rose to become a major player in the Haryana real estate business. As his empire grew, he attracted the attention of politicians and gangsters.

Kanda’s nexus with the underworld was exposed when the Delhi Police intercepted his car boarded by four wanted criminals. In 2007, the home ministry asked the Haryana government to conduct an inquiry into Kanda’s activities.

In 2009, Kanda, previously in open alliance with the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) though not himself a political figure by then, made his intentions of fighting the assembly elections clear to the party. INLD’s bosses refused him the chance and Kanda decided to fight the elections as an independent.

He won by a landslide, winning by a margin of 6,521 votes against his nearest competitor Padam Jain of the INLD. After the victory, Kanda was wooed by Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who had won only 40 seats in a 90-member House. For his support, Kanda was made minister of state for home.

By then, Kanda had amassed huge wealth and real estate in Hissar, Gurgaon and parts of north India, apart from launching his airline service, MDLR Airlines. In Sirsa, he established a charitable trust Baba Kutir, which houses an eye hospital and a 108-foot statue of Lord Shiva, in an area of around 13 acres; a school in 2.5 acres, and his own palace.

Locals say they have never seen the kind of parties Kanda threw at his palatial home. “Buses full of women employees and air hostesses who worked for his airline came to his palace,” a local party worker claimed.

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