Dipankar Chakraborty, the founding editor of the independent left Bangla journal Aneek, passed away on Sunday night. He was 71. A cardiac patient, he had suffered a respiratory problem in the evening and died on the way to hospital. He is survived by his wife, son, daughter, and grandchildren.
Always active in people’s movements, Chakraborty had a pioneering role in the civil rights movement.
As editor of Aneek, Chakraborty played an important role in educating generations of activists. At the same time, the Bangla monthly, under his editorship, raised important political and cultural issues for debate.
Chakraborty was born in Dhaka in 1941 and grew up in Murshidabad after the partition. Educated in Baharampur and Kolkata, he taught economics at Krishnanath College at Baharampur. He later settled in Kolkata.
A veteran of the left movement since the sixties, Chakraborty began publishing and editing Aneek in 1964 when ruptures in the CPI on ideo-political issues led to its first split and the birth of the CPI (M).
In the wake of the Naxalbari uprising three years later that triggered the second split and the birth of the CPI (ML), Chakraborty did not join the new party. But he made Aneek an independent forum for debates on contemporary communist movements, both national and international.
Under his stewardship, Aneek became one of the leading left periodicals in Bengal and among the few ‘little magazines’ which had survived five decades against all odds. He himself was an accomplished political commentator and had several books to his credit.
Chakraborty was jailed by the S.S Roy government during the Emergency. A lifelong defender of human rights, he was also one of the founders of the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights and its vice-president.
He was always active in campaigns to release political prisoners irrespective of the creeds of the ruling parties and governments. He stood by people’s movements and joined protests in their support despite his failing health– from Maruti to Nonadanga.
Chakraborty translated into Bangla a couple of essays by Paul M Sweezy. He also edited a collection of Bangla-translated essays by Sweezy. Aneek regularly carried essays by John Bellamy Foster and other Monthly Review authors.
Chakraborty was also one of the founders of People’s Book Society, a major publishing house, and an enthusiast of the ‘little magazine’ movement in Bengal.
Noted novelist and activist Mahasveta Devi, who knew Chakraborty closely, expressed her ‘profound shock’. “I am deeply grieved. It’s an irreplaceable loss for the human rights movement as well as for me,” the octogenarian writer said. Poet Sankhaya Ghosh also mourned Chakraborty’s death. “I feel like losing a near and dear one,” he said.
Farooque Chowdhury, associated with Bangla Monthly Review, is editor of Micro Credit, Myth Manufactured, and Selected Essays by Paul Sweezy (in Bangla), co-editor of People’s Report on Bangladesh Environment (2001 and 2002-2003), and author of The Age of Crisis, and co-author (with Fred Magdoff) of a Bangla book on food crisis.