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Eminent writer-activist Mahasweta Devi passes away

29 July 2016

She suffered a cardiac arrest following the multi-organ failure. On Sunday, she was on ventilator and doctors said her condition was critical.

Among them were Prime Minister Narendra Modi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Mamata also mentioned in her tweet that she lost a personal guide. "Mahasweta Di rest in peace".

Devi was the recipient of several awards including several of India's highest civilian and literary awards.

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.

Purulia soon emerged as the epicentre of Mahasweta's activism and she came to be revered as "The Mother of the Sabars".

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She famously made a speech at India's prestigious Jaipur literary festival where she said all humans had the fundamental "right to dream". An eight-member group of doctors was treating the renowned writer.

Despite enjoying celebrity status in her home city, Devi's lifestyle was simple and modest. Her uncle was the famous film maker Ritwik Ghatak. Her particular focus is on the life of these communities by exploring the struggles faced by the people. The couple divorced later on. Her son Nabarun Bhattacharya occupies an honourable position in Bangla literature.

The 91-year-old writer had been suffering from kidney, lung and other age-related ailments for a long time and was admitted to the hospital on 22 May.

Her short story collections including "Imaginary Maps" and "Breast Stories", "Of Women, Outcasts, Peasants, and Rebels", and short stories "Dhowli" and "Rudali" also deal with tribal life.

"In her elaborate Bengali fiction, she depicted the brutal oppression of tribal people and untouchables by potent, authoritarian land lords, lenders and venal government officials", Tripathi said in his message.

Eminent writer-activist Mahasweta Devi passes away