Namdeo Laxman Dhansal passes away

He breathed his last around 4 am on Wednesday at Bombay Hospital

Namdeo Laxman Dhasal, Dalit poet and author, ideologue and founder of the Dalit Panthers Party, died in a hospital early Wednesday after a prolonged illness, an aide said.

He was 64 and is survived by his wife Malika Sheikh and a son.

Dhasal’s body will be kept in Ambedkar College at Wadala, central Mumbai, to enable people pay their last respects to the departed leader and the funeral will be held at Dadar crematorium Thursday afternoon.

Born to a Mahar family February 15, 1949, in a small village near Pune, Dhasal spent his childhood in abject poverty in Golpitha, a red light area of Mumbai where his father worked in a butcher’s shop.

Educating himself with great difficulties and against all odds, he founded the Dalit Panther movement with some friends in 1972 – at the age of 23 – inspired by the Black Panther Party founded in the US to spearhead the Black Power Movement.

His famous works are Golpitha, Moorkh Mhataryane, Tujhu Iyatta Kanchi, Khel, Priyadarshini (based on late prime minister Indira Gandhi), novels including Ambedkari Chalwal, Andhale Shatak.

Breaking away from normal poetic styles and conventions, Dhasal used words and expressions typical to Dalits. In his maiden collection, Goplitha, he made use of the crude language that is normal in a red light area, shocking many readers.

He was conferred with Maharashtra State Award for Literature, Soviet Land Nehru Award, Padma Shri (1999) and the Sahitya Akademy Golden Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004.