Guess who is India's public enemy no 1?

Screengrab from the NIA website.

On Saturday, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took to Twitter to ask the public to "help make India safer" by helping them locate fugitives. The NIA assured the public that their identity will be kept a secret if they provide tips and posted a link to the most wanted in NIA cases.

Clicking on the link reveals that the NIA is looking for 258 wanted fugitives in a variety of cases ranging from “terror activities, training militants to planting explosive devices" etc.

However, in absence of any sort of ranking, the only rationalisation of the agency’s priority is revealed by those fugitives that carry a bounty on their head. Fifty-seven names on the list carry a bounty on their head, but one stands out from the list.

India’s biggest internal security threat, claimed previously by our home ministers, including P Chidambaram and Rajnath Singh, is Maoist violence and hence it makes intuitive sense that the highest bounty - Rs 15 lakh - is placed on the head of Mupalla Lakshman Rao alias Ganapathy.


Who is Ganapathy? Why is he the most wanted?

With hundreds of cases registered against him in different police stations around the country, Muppala Lakshmana Rao aka Ganapathy or Ganapathi, the leader of the Indian Maoist movement and the present General Secretary of Communist Party of India (Maoist), a banned Maoist insurgent communist party in India, is the nation's most wanted fugitive.  

The NIA's summary of allegations is as follows:

"The accused entered into a criminal conspiracy to wage war against the Government of India, being members of the banned organisation Communist Party of India (Maoist). In furtherance to their conspiracy, they collected explosive substances, prohibited arms and ammunition and a huge amount of money in a concealed manner from different parts of India, including but not limited to Kolkata and Mumbai. He has also criminally conspired against several others around the country to send the above-mentioned items procured for assembling arms and ammunition and such ready-made purchased items to fictitious addresses at Raipur, Chhattisgarh, through different transport companies in Kolkata and Mumbai."


Ganapathy

Four years ago, BBC India reported that the overall bounty on Ganapathy is the highest in India - Rs 36 Lakhs  - including rewards offered by state governments such as Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. The same year, the bounty was revised and updated to a whopping Rs 2.5 crore -  10 times more than that offered for fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. 

Giving some biographical details about him, BBC says that he was born in 1949 at Birampur in the Karimnagar district of present-day Telangana, and was arrested in Karimnagar in 1977. He is known to be camera shy and hence there are very scant photographs of him since he was released on bail in 1979.

Though India’s security forces are all out to get him, Ganapathy has given interviews from time to time.  

In an interview with Open magazine in 2009 with Rahul Pandita, the journalist and author of the book Hello Bastar, describes him as a 60-year-old “bespectacled, soft-spoken figure” and says that he not only looks like a school teacher but was one in Karimnagar district. Pandita also points out that Ganapathy had a degree in science and a BEd degree.

During the course of the interview, Ganapathy says: “The real terrorists and biggest threats to the country’s security are none other than Manmohan Singh, Chidambaram, Buddhadeb and other ruling class leaders and feudal forces who terrorise the people on a daily basis.”

Similarly, in a 2015 interview with the Times of India, Ganapathy turned his attention to the new government in power and said: “Whether it is Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, or any other representative of the government, they are saying one thing to befool the people and doing its complete opposite. We will have to  resolutely confront and defeat this attack by uniting with all the sections that will be adversely affected.”  

 

Interestingly, fugitives such as Lashkar-e-Toiba chief Hafiz Saeed, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, and 26/11 attacks mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi don’t carry any bounty on their head. Dawood, who in 2011 was named number three on the World's 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list by the FBI and Forbes, has a bounty of only Rs 25 lakh announced by the CBI and the Maharashtra government following the 1993 bomb attacks. The bounty has reportedly not been revised in years. 

What does data on India’s most wanted say?

Data analysed from the top three category of rewards - over Rs 10 lakh, between Rs 9 and 10 lakh, between Rs 7-8 lakh (*no fugitives listed in between Rs 8-9 lakh category) — there are a total of 18 fugitives.

Out of the 18, eight belong to the Indian Mujahideen, four to CPI(M), two to NSCN (Khaplang), one each to Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).  While two others were listed as part of unspecified "terrorist gang". Overall, about 16 of them carry a reward of Rs 10 lakh.

Ganapathy is approximately 69 years old and is the oldest fugitive, and a minor named Junaid Akram Malik, who is believed to be 17 years old, is the youngest on the list.

Maoist Balmuri Narayan Rao is the only woman to feature in the list of 18 fugitives. Overall, 15 women featured in the full list of 258 fugitives. Eleven of the 18 have red notice (RCN) issued by Interpol, while a total of 98 absconders out of 258 have RCN issued against them.







Suspect 

Age (approx)

Gender

NIA Reward 

Nature of Terror or Crime affiliation

Red Corner Notice issued by Interpol for absconding person

Mupalla Lakshman Rao aka Ganapathy

69

M

Rs. 15 lakhs

CPI(M) Leader

No

Abu Bilal

33

M

Rs. 10 lakhs

Lashkar-E-Taiba (LeT)

No

Amir Reza Khan

Unknown

M

Rs. 10 lakhs

Indian Mujahideen

Yes

Thippiri Tirupati aka Deoji

Unknown

M

Rs. 10 lakhs

CPI(M)

No

Keshav Rao aka Basavraj

Unknown

M

Rs. 10 lakhs

CPI(M)

No

Junaid Akram Malik

17 yrs

M

Rs. 10 lakhs

Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM)

No

Mirza Shadab Beg

Unknown

M

Rs. 10 lakhs

Indian Mujahideen

Yes

Mohammad Iqbal aka Iqbal Bhatkal, aka Bada Bhai

43 Years

M

Rs. 10 lakhs

Indian Mujahideen

Yes

Mohd. Khalid aka Sagir

Unknown

M

Rs. 10 lakhs

Indian Mujahideen

Yes

Mohd. Sajid aka Bada Sajid

Unknown

M

Rs. 10 lakhs

Indian Mujahideen

Yes

Mohsin Choudhary aka Sayyed

Unknown

M

Rs. 10 lakhs

Indian Mujahideen

Yes

Balmuri Narayan Rao aka Prabhakar

Unknown

F

Rs. 10 lakhs

CPI(Maoists)

No

Shah Riyaz Ahmed aka Riyaz Bhatkal, aka Ismail Shahbandri, aka Riyaz Ismail Shahbandri

38

M

Rs. 10 lakhs

Indian Mujahideen

No

Sandeep Dange aka Parmanand

40 yrs

M

Rs. 10 lakhs

Terrorist gang

Yes

Dr. Shahnawaz Alam

Unknown

M

Rs. 10 lakhs

Indian Mujahideen

Yes

SS Lt. Gen Nikki Sumi aka Nikki Sema

55 yrs

M

Rs. 10 lakhs

NSCN (khaplang)

Yes

Ram Chandra Kalsangra aka Patidar aka Ramji aka Omji aka Vishnu Patel

41 Yrs

M

Rs. 10 lakhs

Terrorist Gang

Yes

Starson Lamkang

Unknown

M

Rs.7 lakhs

NSCN (khaplang)

Yes

Does it make sense for India to rank the list?

Most lists of these kinds, believe it or not, are not ranked by priority or notoriety. Interpol, for instance, doesn’t prioritise its fugitives by rank. But the first and the most famous of them all, the FBI's 10 Most Wanted Fugitives, does.

The FBI’s list was first launched on March 14, 1950, after FBI director J Edgar Hoover reportedly saw the potential of positive press after a news agency published a story that profiled the "toughest guys" the bureau would like to capture.

According to the FBI figures, 494 fugitives have figured on its 10 Most Wanted list, and 464 have been captured or at least or located, 152 of them with the help of the public. It is unclear whether India, which first released a list of the 50 most wanted fugitives allegedly hiding in Pakistan in 2011, has had any success in capturing fugitives from the lists it has been generating.

Meanwhile, if you have relevant information about any of the fugitives, you can send a mail to assistance.nia@gov.in or call 011-24368800.


ALSO READ: The Maoist menace
 

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Guess who is India's public enemy no 1?

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