Renowned social activist Sindhutai Sapkal passed away at the age of 74

Pune, Jan 4: Renowned social activist Sindhutai Sapkal, affectionately called the mother of orphans, died of a heart attack at a private hospital here, doctors said. Sapkal, who received the Padma Shri last year, had completed 74 years in November.

He was admitted to Galaxy Care Hospital here. Dr Shailesh Puntambekar, medical director of the hospital, said, “He had hernia surgery one-and-a-half months ago and the recovery was very slow. He died of a heart attack at around 8 pm tonight.” Sapkal, who grew up in extreme poverty and suffered a great deal, founded institutions for orphans.

Born on November 14, 1948 in Wardha district of Maharashtra, Sapkal was forced to drop out of school after passing the fourth standard. At the very young age of 12, she was married off to a 32-year-old man. After giving birth to three children, her husband left her even when she was pregnant. Her own mother and the village she grew up in refused to help, forcing her to beg to raise her daughters.

She overcame these circumstances with her own will and started working for the orphans. Having raised over 1,050 orphans, she could claim to have 207 son-in-laws and 36 daughter-in-laws. Apart from the Padma award, he received more than 750 awards and honours. He used the prize money to build a shelter for the orphans. Her efforts led to the establishment of a well-equipped orphanage at Manjari in Pune district.

In 2010, a Marathi biopic on her, “Mee Sindhutai Sapkal”, was released. It was selected for world premiere at the 54th London Film Festival. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has condoled her death. He said that Sakkal, who took care of thousands of children, was a real goddess in the form of a mother.

A tweet from the Chief Minister’s Office said that he would be cremated with state honors on Wednesday. BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said that Maharashtra has lost a mother. She grew up in the face of adversity and dedicated her life to those who were rejected by the society, he said on Twitter