Renowned poet Munawwar Rana dies at 71

The poet had been suffering from throat cancer for a long time

A couplet that poet Munawwar Rana shared with his own portrait, on 15 August 2023, translates as 'This is the land of our martyrs which is called Hindustan/Even when barren, it does not birth cowards' (photo courtesy @MunawwarRana/X)
A couplet that poet Munawwar Rana shared with his own portrait, on 15 August 2023, translates as 'This is the land of our martyrs which is called Hindustan/Even when barren, it does not birth cowards' (photo courtesy @MunawwarRana/X)
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NH Digital

Renowned poet Munawwar Rana passed away at the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Lucknow on Sunday, 14 January. He was 71 years old.

Rana had been suffering from throat cancer for a long time.

Rana's daughter Sumaiya Rana told PTI that her father died at the hospital late on Sunday night and will be laid to rest on Monday, 15 January.

The poet is survived by his wife, four daughters and a son.

"He was hospitalised for 14–15 days due to illness. He was first admitted to Medanta in Lucknow and then to SGPGI, where he breathed his last around 11 pm today," Rana's son Tabrez Rana said.

Born in 1952 in Rae Bareli, Munawwar Rana was awarded the Gyanpeeth Award in 2014. His use of simple words in his poetry made his works popular among the common people.

Rana's poem 'Maa', which is considered one of his most famous works, has a special place in the world of Urdu literature.

Sharing a couplet from Rana's poem, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, in a post on X, condoled the poet's demise.

"The demise of the country's renowned poet Munawwar Rana-ji is extremely heart-wrenching. Wishing peace to the departed soul. Heartfelt tribute," Yadav wrote.

The literary site Rekhta shared a tribute to the "stalwart of Urdu", quoting a couplet by Rana that translates as:

'If I were not here, what would be missing here?

When I am no longer here, what will be missed?'

The official handle of the Indian National Congress also shared a tribute on X, calling his demise "the end of an era in the world of poetry".

Munawwar will also be remembered for his solidarity with various citizens' causes, and critique of a right-wing government.

His criticism did not spare either Islamophobic opinions or those of his own faith he felt were politicising religion.

He even had a case registered against him for comparing Valmiki, author of the Ramayana, to the Taliban. While his opinion was made to sound rather controversial in sensationalised media reports of the time, his statement merely held that even those accused of crimes (like the Taliban) can change and grow into better human beings, just as a dacoit became the godly author Valmiki—in effect, a plea for reasoned and tempered enactment of justice, with rehabilitation, rather than bloodthirsty calls for vengeance.

With PTI inputs

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