Mahasweta Devi passes away

Influenced by the Communist movement of the 1940s, she chose to work among the poorest of the poor in the tribal areas of West Bengal.

July 28, 2016 04:02 pm | Updated December 04, 2021 10:54 pm IST - Kolkata

Eminent litterateur and social activist Mahasweta Devi passed away on Thursday afternoon at a private hospital in Kolkata.

The 90-year-old Magsaysay awardee was admitted to the hospital in south Kolkata on June 22, 2016 with septicemia and urinary infection. She was also suffering from diabetes. She passed away at around 3 p.m. on Thursday.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted: "India has lost a great writer. Bengal has lost a glorious mother. I have lost a personal guide. Mahasweta Di rest in peace."

The condition of the author — who has played a significant role to uplift the extremely backward community, Kheria Sabar — deteriorated over the last few weeks, following which an eight-member medical board was formed for her treatment. She was put on ventilator support.

Wife of one of Bengal’s most prolific playwrights and litterateurs, Bijon Bhattacharya, the activist-writer grew up in the family of Bengal’s leading writers, poets and filmmakers. Filmmaker Ritwick Ghatak was her uncle. Influenced by the Communist movement of the 1940s, she chose to work among the poorest of the poor in the tribal areas of southern West Bengal and in other parts of the country.

“And the people whom she came across in real life slowly made their place in her stories and novels,” said Joya Mitra, a prominent writer and a close associate of Devi.

“There are very few writers who are capable of narrating – directly – what they experience. She [Mahasweta Devi] is one such writer who routinely described what she witnessed,” Ms. Mitra told The Hindu last week.

Earlier in the year, Mahasweta Devi was admitted to the private health facility and was discharged after her health improved.

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