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Mainstream, VOL LI, No 11, March 2, 2013

Tribute: Dipankar Chakraborty

Wednesday 6 March 2013


by Bishwajit Sen

He was a democrat to the core of his being. He always gave the “other” voice more importance than his own, even if that meant giving up some of his own preferences. One hardly comes across such a person, in the middle-class milieux, amongst writers, editors or creative persons. It is this which made Dipankar Chakraborty stand apart in a crowd.

But it does not mean that he faltered while making choices. When the movement against land acquisition erupted in Singur and Nandigram, Aneek (the journal edited by him) became, almost effortlessly, the mouthpiece of the struggle. It was Dipankar’s method of working which gathered such different personalities as Sankho Ghosh and Joy Goswami under the banner of Aneek. Again, when Maoists disrupted a potent people’s movement (PCAPA) in Lalgarh, Aneek carried out an ideologist struggle, in issue after issue against the Maoists. Those issues of Aneek, on Maoism, or society and armed struggle are Dipankar’s valuable contributions to the subject. Though fighting Maoist disruption, he did give them a chance to place their viewpoint before the readers. Therein lay his greatness. His method was to overcome differences through debate.

Every field of human activity attracted him. He established the “Murshidabad Journalist Association”, initiated the “Murshidabad Book Fair”, and laid the foundation of the “Murshida-bad Film Society”, and also published a journal Murshidabad Bikkhan, which is still coming out, though he left Bahrampur in 2004, after retiring from a teacher’s job in K.N. College, to settle down in Calcutta. Another of his contributions was founding the India-China Friendship Society.

Active in the “Bandi Mukti Committee” and APDR, he saw things through to their very end, be it investigations or movements. Politics for him was something to be lived, and not merely mouthed. He was himself a political prisoner, during the Emergency of Mrs Gandhi, to be released only after the Emergency was lifted.

Though Aneek is a socio-political journal, Dipankar always saw to it that it gives some space to poems and short stories. But there too, he did not allow his personal preferences come in the way of democratic functioning of the journal. The choice of the selection committee was the last word and he would, under no circumstances, attempt at influencing it.

Dipankar was a loving husband, a caring father and fulfilled all the responsibilities of the family silently and meticulously. He was deeply affectionate towards his colleagues and juniors. He was indulgent towards writers but only to the extent of making them deliver better and still better material. As an editor, he always had his fingers on the pulse of the society. That was the reason, Aneek became the single largest mouthpiece of the non-parliamentary Left in West Bengal. Last year Aneek completed 50 years of its publication.

The demise of Dipankar Chakraborty was untimely, since stormy battles lie ahead. We will all feel his absence. The void caused by his departure will strike us with ever greater intensity as days pass.

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