Sharmistha Choudhury was a politbureau member and leader of CPIML Red Star and it’s womens wing, All India Revolutionary Women’s Organisation (AIRSO).
Sharmistha passed away on Sunday afternoon after battling medical conditions including COVID-19 for last four months. Yesterday she was admitted to SSKM hospital in Kolkata where died after a massive heart attack. She was and is survived by her husband Alik Chakraborty and daughter.
A fulltimer in the communist movement, Sharmistha had left her job as a journalist at The Telegraph to become a full-time political activist.
Sharmistha has been associated with peoples movements and mass movements in Bengal, always standing against oppression, land grab, eviction (be it Singur, Nandigram, Lalgarh, Nonadanga or Bhangar) and taking away citizenship of the people.
Sharmistha was also known as a frontline leader in the revolutionary women’s movement in India. Sharminshtha’s paper on “Marxism and the Women’s Question ” is an important vision document for the future revolutionary struggles.
She was also part of Women Against Sexual Harassment and State Repression or WSS, and as part of it she went for important fact finding and documentation work from Bastar to Nandigram, and tried with others to uphold a feminist vision for the 99%.
A keen participant in the women’s movement, workers movement in the jute industry, Sharmistha organised and led the anti land grab movement at Bhangar.
Sharmistha was one of the key organisers of Bhangar land struggle against the Power Grid project.
In Bhangar movement, people fought against forceful land grab and for their rightful compensation against the Powergrid project. Residents of around a dozen villages in Bhangar, under the banner of ‘Jomi, Jibika, Poribesh O Bastutantra Raksha Committee’ (Committee for protection of land, livelihood, environment and ecology), had protested the TMC government’s plans to set up a power station, alleging the project will cause health hazards and damage the ecology of the area.
As a leader of the committee, Sharmistha faced the wrath of the state, became a political prisoner and was imprisoned for few months under the draconian UAPA.
Bangar land struggle succeed in obtaining some concessions from Power Grid Corporation of India and Government of West Bengal.
Anti-NRC, CAA and No Vote to BJP Movement
Sharmistha represented the Jomi Jeebika Committee when the coalition of several grassroots based organisations came together to form the platform Anti NRC Peoples Movement to take forward the struggle against NRC, CAA, NPR. She was one of the convenors of the ‘No Vote to BJP’ civil society movement against the fascists RSS and BJP in Bengal.
When the antifascist platform, Bengal Against Fascist RSS BJP was formed during a series of mutual discussions and consultations during Nov 20 – Jan 21, comrade Sharmistha became one of the 40+ conveners of the platform of mass movement activists.
She and others in the platform ran the energetic antifascist “No Vote to BJP” campaign before the Bengal Assembly elections of 2021.
Filmmaker Kasturi Basu and fellow activist, remembers her with sadness and highlights the loss of an activist like Sharmistha on her Facebook page.
Sharmistha di was a journalist before she became a full time political activist. She retained some of that fervour in her political writings, an inclination to document the smaller finer yet important details. I will never forget her account of her fellow women political prisoners written during her own jail time. In meetings and personal interactions she was simple, honest, impulsive, argumentative and very warm once that closeness of warmth was breached.
As part of the No Vote to BJP, the group had only just begun to deliberate on future movements and the way forward for a strengthened antifascist and anti capitalist campaign when we lost her to a deadly bout of what was suspected to be Crohns disease even after she recovered from an occurrence of Covid.
Activists all across the country are shocked and mourning the loss of a fellow comrade. Her loss is not only personal but national. Her thoughts and ideas will guide us in our struggle to build a world without oppression.