Mahasweta Devi, Writer and Social Activist, Passes Away at 90

The Sahitya Akademi award-winning author was suffering from kidney and lung ailments in the week before she died.

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Mahasweta Devi. (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/<a href="">@airnewsalerts</a>)

Veteran social activist and eminent writer Mahasweta Devi passed away at the age of 90, in Kolkata, on Thursday. She suffered a cardiac arrest following a multi-organ failure, P Tandon, CEO of Belle Vue nursing home said.

The Sahitya Akademi award-winning author was suffering from kidney and lung ailments, beside blood and urinary tract infections and had been hospitalised all of last week.

A Padma Vibhushan awardee, Mahasweta Devi is well known for spearheading protests against the West Bengal government’s industrial policies in Singur and Nandigram. She founded several grassroot level societies for the welfare of tribals.

Devi helped tribals and the rural dispossessed in organising themselves into groups so that they could take up development activities in their own areas.

Her writings focused on the marginalised communities in the country and served as the voice of the oppressed.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condoled her death and said the country has lost a great writer.

Mahasweta Devi. (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/<a href="">@airnewsalerts</a>)
Mahasweta Devi. (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@airnewsalerts)

Despite enjoying celebrity status in her home city, Devi’s lifestyle was simple and modest.

During her lifetime, the writer-activist also taught English literature in a college and also wrote for newspapers on topics related to rural India. In one of her speeches she had remarked that social activism was the driving force of all her literary activities, be it literature, newspaper columns or the journal she edited.

Her historical fiction Aranyer Adhikar (Right to the Forest), for which she won the Sahitya Akademi award in 1979 is about the famous Munda rebellion against the British in the late nineteenth century.

Her other notable works include Agnigarbha, a collection of four long stories about the Naxalite tribal unrest, Bish-Ekush, a chronicle untold stories about the Naxalite movement.

(With inputs from PTI)

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