www.sacw.net | March 10, 2005

121 Vithalbhai Patel House, Rafi Marg, New Delhi 110 001

Remembering Kanak Mukherjee

The All India Democratic Womens Association (AIDWA) deeply mourns the passing away today of one of its founders, a veteran of the womens' movement and the communist movement of our country, Smt. Kanak Mukherjee. Kanak di, as she was affectionately known all over the country, died after being seriously ill for several days in Kolkota at the age of 83.
Kanak di was born in Jessore, now in Bangladesh, on December 30th , l931. When she was barely 18, she organized a girl studentsí association and became an active member of the Bengal Provincial Students Federation. Because of her involvement in the national movement, she was imprisoned soon after and was then externed from Calcutta and other districts of Bengal. She went underground during l940-41 during which time she married Com. Saroj Mukherjee, the communist leader.
In the terrible years of the Bengal Famine ó l942-43 ó she plunged into relief work as a leader of the Mahila Atmaraksha Samity and began her life-long association with the womens movement and, soon afterwards, she became one of the leaders of the Ganatantrik Mahila Samity which she helped to found. The Samity was in the forefront of not only relief work but was also active in all the struggles of the working people and in the struggle for independence. After 1947 also it was in the forefront of the many mass struggles that West Bengal witnessed.
When, in l981, many State organizations like the Ganatantrik Mahila Samity merged themselves to form the All India Democratic Womens Association, Kanak di was one of its founders. She played an important role in preparing the Constitution and also the understanding of the new organization. She had been the leader of the largest State womens organization and she continued to lead it after the formation of AIDWA also. The West Bengal state unit of AIDWA, its largest unit, has been an inspiration to the organization and to the womens movement in the country not only because of its strength and the number of issues that it has been taking up but because of the tremendous sacrifices made by its members in defence of democratic and womens rights and in the struggle against semi-fascist oppression.

Kanak di joined the Communist Party in l938 and then the CPI(M) in l964. She went to jail several times and for long periods in l951 and during the Emergency. She has served in public life as an alderman and also as a Member of the Rajya Sabha. Her intellectual prowess not only ensured a place for her as a University lecturer but also made her a lyrical poet and a consummate and compulsive writer. She edited the journal of the West Bengal Ganatantrik Mahila Samity, Ek Sathe, for decades with dedication.
Kanak di's indomitable spirit and unflinching commitment to the cause that she espoused are in inspiration for all of us. Her poor health in the last several years, her difficulty in walking and the fact that she could hardly see in the last few years of her life never sapped her of her determination to attend meetings and programmes or of her sharp and incisive contribution to debates and discussions.
AIDWA condoles the death of a great fighter for womens rights and for the rights of the toiling people. The inspiration that she has provided for all of us can never be forgotten.

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