Even as the whole Party was observing the 14th death anniversary of Comrade VM on December 18 came the shocking news from Kolkata of Comrade Sankar Mitra’s passing. Veteran Party leader Sankarda breathed his last at 2 PM in his Kolkata home. He was 73. He had undergone bypass surgery in the 1990s and a few months ago he was diagnosed with cancer in one of his kidneys. He had successfully undergone surgery for the kidney cancer but succumbed to cardiac arrest. Comrade Mitra is survived by his wife Anu and son Arnab and his countless comrades and friends all over the country.
Born in 1940, Comrade Sankar Mitra was the youngest among the three sons and four daughters of his parents Prafulla Mitra and Sisirkana Mitra. His eldest brother Pabitra Mitra was a well-known Bengali lyricist and a music composer for modern Bengali songs. Comrade Sankar Mitra had joined the communist movement in the turbulent 1960s. When Naxalbari happened, Sankarda, then a militant leader of LIC employees, was quick to respond to the revolutionary call and soon he became a fulltime worker of the CPI(ML).
Arrested during the infamous regime of Siddhartha Shankar Ray, he defied state repression during his long stay in the Medinipur jail. After coming out of the jail in the late 1970s, he played a key role in reviving and reorganising the Party in West Bengal, working in rural pockets of Medinipur, Bankura and North Bengal. In the latter half of the 1980s he was in charge of the Party organisation in Delhi. His next assignment was as Party in-charge in Tamil Nadu before he returned to his home state West Bengal. After the first sign of peasant revolt in Nandigram in January 2007, Comrade Sankar Mitra led the first fact-finding team to Nandigram. The Medinipur police dubbed him and other members of the fact-finding team as Maoists and put the entire team in jail. Even after Mamata Banerjee came to power riding on the Singur-Nandigram wave of peasant protests and popular upsurge, the false cases were never withdrawn.
Comrade Sankar Mitra was elected to the CC by the Third Congress of the Party. Between the Fourth and Fifth Congress he also served on the Polit Bureau. During the transitional phase before the Party came overground, he was the central spokesperson of the Party and also President of the West Bengal unit of the Indian People’s Front. He was also a member of the Party panel entrusted with the project of documentation of the history of the Indian communist movement. Between the Fifth and Seventh Congress of the Party, Comrade Sankar Mitra headed the Central Control Commission.
He was a hard-working communist known for his simplicity, modesty and human warmth. Committed to the basics of Marxism, Comrade Mitra also took great interest in the study and investigation of the socio-economic conditions, historical traditions and cultural environment of every area where he worked as a Party organiser and leader. Comrade Sankarda was one of the last few living links with the historic period of the communist movement of the 1960s and the birth of the CPI(ML). His death is a great loss and leaves today’s generation of comrades with the responsibility of carrying forward his revolutionary mission.
Red Salute to Comrade Sankar Mitra!