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His writing on human hardships baffled the world of literature | The Indian Express

Related. The firebrand Dalit leader and renowned poet Namdeo Dhasal (64), who had been battling colon cancer for some time, died early Wednesday morning at Bombay Hospital here. His last rites would be performed at Chaityabhoomi in Dadar on Thursday. Senior political leaders of Maharashtra, including Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, paid rich tributes to Dhasal, who was one of the founder members of Dalit Panthers, a militant movement inspired by the America’s Black Panthers movement. Dhasal had been wheelchair-bound because of his illness for the last few years. Born in a village in Khed taluka of Pune district on February 15, 1949, he along with his parents later shifted to Mumbai in search of livelihood. His father was in meat-selling business. Dhasal spent his early childhood in Golpitha, a red light area in Mumbai. Tiding over a personal struggle in his life, Dhasal took recourse to passionate writing on human hardships, which was unconventional and bold and baffled the world of literature in the early 1970s and 80s. “Dhasal played a crucial role in rejuvenating the militant spirit in the generation next through his Dalit Panthers movement. His hard-hitting speeches coupled with equally forceful writings gave a new direction to the Dalit writings,” says noted Dalit writer Arjun Dangle. Dhasal, a Padma Shri awardee, was often misunderstood for bringing in his writing phrases that were considered forbidden in the civil society. “Dhasal’s greatest achievement was his ability to use poetry for politics. The themes he chose unravelled the hardships of humanity and their struggle was often shown in a raw manner through words, which often created a shock,” says Shiv Sena MP Bharatkumar Raut. “Dhasal was extremely well versed with international writings and political movements. He was often misunderstood within his own Dalit organisations,” Raut says. The prolific writer who continued to pen his column from the hospital bed first shot to fame with his work Golpitha (1973). It was followed by Morkh Mhataryane (Foolish old man), Tujhi Iyatta Kanchi (How educated are you?), Khel, Mi Marle Suryacharathache Saath Ghode (I killed seven horses of Sun), Tuhji Boat Dharun Mi Chalalo (I held your fingers to walk). Dhasal was committed to the Dalit Panthers movement which lost its steam in the 1990s because of internal differences. His ability to speak blunt on political developments often triggered a rage in Maharashtra. He was awarded the prestigious Soviet Land Nehru Award (1974) and Sahitya Akademi in the same year. He was married to Malika Amar Sheikh, daughter of poet Amar Sheikh.
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