The work and contributions of social activist and thinker Ilina Sen are widely known and as she recently passed away and has left behind a gigantic legacy of work behind her, it’s an opportune time to think of her and recall her. An ardent champion of tribal rights, anti-corporate resistance and an advocate of the rights of the marginalised and subaltern peoples, Ilina Sen passed away after a prolonged battle with cancer on 9th August, 2020.
She has been known all her life as an activist who has worked on social issues relating to the rights of workers in the mines of Chhattisgarh and among the tribals and Adivasis of the region. She was known for her compassionate and dedicated service to the ordinary people of the state and for taking up the cause of mine workers through activism in trade unions and championing the cause of the rights of the tribal community.
Ilina Sen has written extensively on her work and observations and two of her works, Inside Chhattisgarh: A Political Memoir and Sukhvasin: The Migrant Woman of Chhattisgarh. All her life she championed the struggle for Dalit and tribal rights in Chhattisgarh and for freeing them from corporate and institutionalised monopoly and exploitation by the Salwa Judum.
She also worked for taking quality healthcare facilities to the remotest corners of Chhattisgarh and taught at the Mahatma Gandhi International Hindi University in Wardha.
Her death may have erased her physical presence from the earth but her contributions and body of work will continue to make a difference to the people of Chhattisgarh for generations to come.