Acclaimed writer & activist Mahasweta Devi no more

RSTV Bureau
File photo of writer Mahasweta Devi. (PTI)

File photo of writer Mahasweta Devi. (PTI)

Renowned writer and social activist Mahasweta Devi passed away in Kolkata on Thursday. She was 90 years old.

Mahasweta Devi suffered a cardiac arrest after a multi-organ failure at Kolkata’s Belle Vue nursing home, where she had been admitted for over two months.

She was honoured with Sahitya Akademi and Jnanpith awards for her literary excellence. She was also a recipient of Padma Vibhshan and Magsaysay award.

Some of her famous works include ‘Aranyer Adhikar’, ‘Chotti Munda evam Tar Tir’, ‘Rudali’, ‘Kulaputra’ and ‘Agnigarbha.’

Mahasweta Devi’s writings focused on the marginalised communities in the country and served as the voice of the oppressed. Devi helped tribals and the rural dispossessed in organising themselves in groups so that they could take up development activities in their own areas. She also founded several grassroot level societies for the welfare of tribals.

In one of her speeches she had said that social activism was the driving force of all her literary activities, be it literature, newspaper columns or the journal she edited. For her novels and short stories, she travelled deep into rural areas to research the oral history of tribal communities especially in adjacent Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal.

A host of political leaders paid their tribute to the noted writer.

“Mahashweta Devi wonderfully illustrated the might of the pen. A voice of compassion, equality & justice, she leaves us deeply saddened. RIP,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on twitter.

“India has lost a great writer. Bengal has lost a glorious mother. I have lost a personal guide. Mahashweta Di rest in peace,” tweeted West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Even Bollywood greats like director and producer Mahesh Bhatt condoled her death.

“The woman who walked with the broken and refused to sit with the ‘great’! Writer Mahasweta Devi passes away in Kolkata. What a life !!!!” said Bhatt.

Born in 1926 in Dhaka to middle-class parents, her father Manish Ghatak was a renowned poet of his time and uncle was filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak, one of the front runners of parallel cinema movement in India.

(With inputs from PTI)