Former IAS officer Neela Satyanarayan, who had served as Maharashtra’s first woman Election Commissioner, succumbed to Covid-19 at a suburban hospital on Thursday. She was 72.
The 1972-batch officer had held important posts in the home and forest departments and retired as the additional chief secretary (Revenue) in 2009. After her retirement, she was appointed by the Congress-NCP government as the state’s first woman Election Commissioner on July 2009. She served in the position till July 2014.
An avid writer, she had authored several collections of poetry and 17 novels. Her most well-known book was One Half One Full, which charted her travails as a bureaucrat juggling her career with the demands of raising a son with Down’s Syndrome.
She had tested positive two weeks ago and was subsequently admitted to SevenHills Hospital. She also suffered from kidney failure and was on dialysis support. Her last dialysis was conducted on Wednesday. She was on ventilator support and had to be intubated for oxygen.
“She suffered a cardiac arrest late night. We tried to resuscitate her but she passed away early morning,” said Dr Balkrishna Adsul, Dean of SevenHills Hospital.
Other members of her family have also tested positive and are in hospital. She leaves behind a 38-year-old son requiring special care. An attendant has been deputed to look after him in SevenHills Hospital. He was recently shifted from ICU to a normal ward after testing positive. Her husband is admitted in the hospital’s ICU. Her daughter, also Covid-19 positive, is in Hinduja hospital, while her son-in-law is under home quarantine.
On Thursday, the hospital took written consent from her husband to proceed with the cremation. After requisite clearances from the local police station, her final rites were conducted in Oshiwara crematorium.
Condolences poured in from politicians and bureaucrats upon her death. Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari said in a statement: “Smt Neela Satyaranayana was an outstanding officer, a prolific writer, a courageous mother and social thinker. She discharged every role in her career and life with absolute dedication, positive attitude and passion. In her demise, we have lost a dedicated officer and socially responsive thinker.”
NCP chief Sharad Pawar tweeted: “We have lost a humane and empathetic ex-officer. May her soul rest in peace. Condolences to her family members.”
Saddened to hear about the demise of Neela Satyanarayanan. She was the first woman State Election Commissioner of Maharashtra. We have lost a humane and empathetic ex-officer. May her soul rest in peace. Condolences to her family members.
— Sharad Pawar (@PawarSpeaks) July 16, 2020
“Maharashtra will remember her forever as someone who left a stamp on her administrative career and in the field of literature and art,” Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines