Eminent poet and critic Sankha Ghosh passes away at 89 after testing positive for Covid-19

Eminent poet and critic Sankha Ghosh passes away at 89 after testing positive for Covid-19

Hummingbird News Desk

KOLKATA, 21 APRIL: Eminent poet and critic Sankha Ghosh, who had tested positive for Covid-19 on 14 April, passed away at his residence in Kolkata on Wednesday.

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The 89-year-old Padma Bhushan awardee was advised home isolation, but his condition deteriorated late on Tuesday. He is survived by wife Pratima and two daughters –Semanti and Srabanti.

Besides the Padma Bhushan, Ghosh had also been conferred the Jnanpith, Shaitya Akademi awards, and Rabindra Puraskar.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and chief minister Mamata Banerjee expressed their condolences over Ghosh’s death.

“Shri Shankha Ghosh will be remembered for his contributions to Bengali and Indian literature. His works were widely read and admired. Saddened by his demise. Condolences to his family and friends. Om Shanti,” the Prime Minister tweeted.

“Following the demise of Sankha Ghosh, we extend our deep condolences. I have directed the Chief Secretary and final rites will be performed with full State honours,” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said.

Miss Banerjee also added that since the poet was not in favour of a “gun salute,” it would not be part of the ceremony.

Noted Bengali poet Joy Goswami said Ghosh was the conscience of Bengali society. “He was like a father, a guardian and conscience of the society. I am heartbroken. I know what I have lost and very soon, the literary circle would feel the void,” said poet Joy Goswami.

Writer Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay, recalling his decades-long association with the poet, said that despite several awards and laurels “there was not even a hint of pride in him”.

According to reports, poet Subodh Sarkar said COVID-19 snatched away Ghosh when he was needed the most as “the state was faced with the threat of fascism”. “He was soft-spoken but his pen was razor-sharp, always speaking against intolerance. He used to be a participant in all conventions and movements for free and liberal thinking,” Sarkar said.

Considered an authority on Tagore, his famous works include Adim Lata-Gulmomay and Murkha Baro Samajik Nay, among other books. Ghosh was awarded the Sahitya Academy Award in 1977 for his poetry collection Babarer Prarthana.

The poet was vocal about contemporary issues and was also seen at the forefront during many political upheavals in the state including the Nandigram violence.

Ghosh was a man of few words. Though he was considered one of the greatest of poets, he chose silence even when protesting against the violence and violation of human rights towards the end of the Left Front regime. At the most, he would issue written statements.

The poet had also expressed strong opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act through a poem called Mati. His other well-known poems are Andolan, Mukh Dheke Jaye Biggapone, Chup Koro and Bohiragoto.

He was born on 6 February, 1932, in Chandpur, which is in present-day Bangladesh. The poet graduated in Bengali honours from Presidency College in 1951 and did his post-graduation at University of Calcutta.

He taught at a number of educational institutes, including Visva Bharati University, Delhi University and Jadavpur University. He retired from Jadavpur University in 1992.

Readers and admirers of his work also took to social media to express their anguish, acknowledging the deep void the poet left.

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