Sunday, March 5, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Geeta Mukherjee dead

NEW DELHI, March 4 (PTI) — Veteran Communist leader Geeta Mukherjee, who fought a long crusade for women’s rights, died here this morning following a massive heart attack. She was 76.

Popularly known as “Geetadi”, the veteran parliamentarian who won every Lok Sabha election from Panskura in West Bengal since 1980, was in the forefront till the last moment — whether it was for women’s rights or a political issue.

She was in the lead in the House even yesterday as the opposition pilloried government on the issue of installation of a NDA government in Bihar and the RSS.

The end came suddenly when she was preparing to leave for Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh for a party programme. She died of a heart attack at her residence here. Her body will be flown to Calcutta this evening for the last rites tomorrow.

Born in 1924, baptised in the Communist movement as a student in the late ’30s and married to the legendary Bengal Communist leader Biswanath Mukherjee, Geeta Mukherjee was the Deputy Leader of the CPI in the Lok Sabha and National Secretary of the party.

But her role in the making of a tough legislation in the wake of a spate of dowry deaths of young married women, especially in the north, was phenomenal.

In combination with another Marxist veteran Suseela Gopalan and another women activist MP Pramila Dandavate, she was instrumental in the amendment of the criminal laws that enabled statutory investigations of any unnatural death of a woman within seven years of marriage.

Her body was kept at the party headquarters in the state Ajoy Bhawan, where a pall of gloom descended immediately after news of her death. The last rites will be performed in Calcutta tomorrow.

President K.R. Narayanan, paying floral tributes, said: “In her death, the country has lost a wonderful human being and a beacon of social justice and social transformation, who identified herself with the cause of the working classes and women’s empowerment.”

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was among the first prominent leaders to pay floral tributes. He described her as a “true representative of the people of India who tirelessly championed the cause of the poor and working class throughout her life. She was a shining example of women’s empowerment.

Vice-President Krishan Kant said her “simplicity, honesty, commitment and sincerity won her many friends and admirers and enhanced her stature. The void created by her loss shall be hard to fill.”

Mr Balayogi described her as a committed Leftist and said that as an active member of the Lok Sabha since 1980, she always stood for the cause of the welfare of the poor, the downtrodden and weaker sections of society.

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