Pune: Renowned social activist Sindhutai Sapkal, affectionately known as the ‘mother of orphans’, died of a heart attack at a private hospital in Pune, doctors said today.
Sapkal, who received the Padma Shri last year, passed away at the age of 73. Growing up in extreme poverty and facing extreme hardships during her early years, Sapkal is known for the many institutions she has set up for orphans.
He was admitted to Galaxy Care Hospital in Pune, Maharashtra. 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.”
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 age of 12, she was married off to a man of 32 years. After giving birth to three children, her husband left her while she was pregnant. At one point, when her own mother and the village she grew up in refused to help her with her plight, Sapkal had to beg to raise her daughters.
However, after overcoming these circumstances, she soon started working for the welfare of orphans. Having raised over 1,050 orphans, she can claim to have 207 son-in-laws and 36 daughter-in-laws.
Sapkal has received more than 750 awards and honors in his lifetime, apart from the Padma award. She has used the prize money to build a shelter for the orphans.
His life has been an inspiration to many. In 2010, a Marathi biopic on his life, Me Sindhutai Sapkal, It was released at the 54th London Film Festival and was selected for world premiere.
Paying tribute to the eminent social worker, PM Modi tweeted, “Dr Sindhutai Sapkal will be remembered for his noble service to the society. Due to his efforts, many children could live a better quality of life.”
The Prime Minister said, “He also did a lot of work among marginalized communities. Saddened by his demise. Condolences to his family and fans. Om Shanti.”
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has also condoled his death. He said that Sakkal, who took care of thousands of children, was a real Goddess in the form of a mother. He will be cremated with state honors on Wednesday, a tweet from the Chief Minister’s Office mentioned.
BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis further said that Sapkal grew up in the face of adversity and dedicated her life to those who were rejected by the society. In her death, Maharashtra lost a mother, Mr. Fadnavis said in tribute.
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