Acclaimed writer and social activist Mahasweta Devi has died at the age of 90. She was admitted to the hospital in Kolkata with age-related ailments and her condition was critical due to kidney disorder and blood infection.
“She passed away at 3.16 p.m. following a cardiac arrest and multi-organ failure,” a doctor told IANS.
She has won both the Sahitya Akademi and Jnanpith awards for literary excellence. She is also a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay award and the Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second-highest civilian honour.
She began writing in the 60s, moved by the everyday realities she saw around herself in rural Bengal. At that point of time, Devi used to teach in a college on the outskirts of the city of Kolkata. Many of her works have also been the basis of films.
Her works include ‘Aranyer Adhikar’, ‘Chotti Munda evam Tar Tir’, ‘Rudali’, ‘Kulaputra’ and ‘Agnigarbha.’
Along with writing, Devi was committed to the empowerment of tribals in the country and she has campaigned for a wide range of issues.
In 1997, based on a petition led by her, then president Shankar Dayal Sharma stopped the execution of two boys from Andhra Pradesh at the last minute. This, despite having rejected the convicts’ mercy petitions earlier.
Also read: Mahasweta Devi, the writer as activist
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee mourned Devi’s demise and wrote 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.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief on Twitter, “Mahashweta Devi wonderfully illustrated the might of the pen. A voice of compassion, equality & justice, she leaves us deeply saddened. RIP.”