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CPI(M) pays homage to Ahilya Rangnekar

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Sunday expressed its profound grief at the passing away of veteran party leader and former MP Ahilya Rangnekar in Mumbai. She was 87.

As a young student, Ahilya joined the freedom struggle fired by the anti-imperialist zeal. She organised a demonstration of girl students to protest the death of Mahatma Gandhi’s secretary, Mahadevbhai Desai in custody at the Aga Khan Palace. She was arrested and convicted for three months and lodged at the Yeravada jail where she hoisted the Indian tricolour on the wall of the jail, a party release said.

In 1943 Ahilya began working among the textile workers of Mumbai and joined the Communist Party the same year. She played a pioneering role in founding and building the democratic women’s movement in India.

She was one of the founder members of the Parel Mahila Sangh in 1943, which organised food for the striking sailors during the revolt by the Royal Indian Navy ratings in 1946. Ahilya was one of the founders of the All India Democratic Women’s Association.

Later on she was elected its national working president. She was one of the leaders of the Samyukta Maharashtra movement for linguistic reorganisation of the State of Maharashtra. Along with many other communist leaders, she was detained by the Government of India under the Defence of India Rules at the time of the India-China border conflict.

In 1972 she along with Mrinal Gore and others led the famous anti-price rise movement in the State. She was the first women leader to be arrested during the Emergency in 1975.

Ahilya served the Communist Party for more than six decades. She was the secretary of the Maharashtra State Committee between 1983 and 1986. Elected to the Central Committee of the party in 1978, she stepped down in 2005. She was continuously elected to the Mumbai Municipal Corporation from1957 to 1977.

In 1977 she was elected to the Lok Sabha from Central Mumbai. The Polit Bureau paid respectful homage to her memory and conveyed its heartfelt condolences to her two sons Ajit and Abhay and other family members.

“An inspiring leader”

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said he was saddened to learn about Ms. Rangnekar. “With her passing away the downtrodden and the progressive forces of the country have lost a dedicated and inspiring leader who belonged to the generation known for its sacrifices .. Comrade Rangnekar’s contributions as a freedom fighter, as a parliamentarian and as a leader who fought for the rights of the women will always be remembered”, he said in a message.

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