Tributes for poet-activist Sugathakumari pour in

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Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 23 (PTI): Tributes poured in from various quarters for poet-activist and Padma awardee Sugathakumari who died here on Wednesday.

The 86-year-old poet passed away at the government medical college hospital here in the morning after testing positive for COVID-19 and undergoing treatment.

The poet-activist played anirreplaceablerole in Kerala's literary, cultural and social space for over six decades.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, among others, recalled her contributions and mourned the loss.

In his condolence message, Vijayan said Sughathakumari was a poet who stood firmly for environment and women's rights.

She proved that social activism can successfully go in tandem along with poetic life.

She had been part of struggles forthe cause of Malayalam language to environment protection, he said adding that she had stood as the voice of helpless girls, tribal peopleand hapless creatures.

Her poetry 'penkunju 90' is a typical example which projected the anger and sadness of a woman's pathetic state, the Chief Minister added.

Expressing grief over her death, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said like her father Bodheswaran, Sugathkumari was a creative genius who maintained Gandhian principles in her writing, deeds and life.

While state cultural affairs minister A K Balan hailed her as the guardian of nature and Malayalam language, former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh tweeted she was a legend in so many ways.

'I am deeply distressed by the news of the death of the renowned poet and activist Sugathakumariji. It was my privilege and good fortune to have been the recipient of her friendship in recent years,' Ramesh said.

He also recalled the octogenarian poet's contributions to the Silent Valley movement.

'Sugathakumari was a poet who was committed to her land, fellow human beings and her mother tongue. Even while writing beautiful poems, she would fight the attempts to destroy nature. Her demise is an irreplaceable loss to Kerala,' BJP state chief K Surendran said.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the district administration has made arrangements at the Ayyankali Hall here to pay homage before a portrait of the departed poet.

Complying with COVID-19 norms, people from several walks of life reached here and paid floral tribute to her photograph.

Family sources here said the cremation would be held at the Santhi Kavadam, the electric crematorium, here, adhering to COVID-19 protocols.

Fondly called as 'Sugatha Teacher'' by hundreds of her admirers and followers, the activist-poet had been admitted to the intensive care unit of the medical college after being diagnosed with the viral infection on December 21.

Though she was first admitted to a private hospital, she was rushed to the government health facility after she tested positive for coronavirus.

As her condition remained critical and her body failed to respond to medicines, the poet was put on ventilator support, medical college authorities said.

Besides severe bronchial pneumonia, an after-effect of COVID-19, the condition of her vital organs also deteriorated and the end came at around 11 am.

One of the most celebrated Malayalam poets of the contemporary era, Sugathakumari was known for her unique poems filled with compassionate empathy, human sensitivity and philosophical quest.

In her poetic career spanning over six decades, she, through her subtle and sublime lines, fought against the injustice in this world especially against the ruthless oppression of women and indiscriminate exploitation of nature.

A fearless and tireless fighter in real life, she led several agitations for the environmental cause and conservation of nature. PTI LGK UD NVG NVG