Dipanjan Raychaudhuri


Dipanjan Raychaudhuri, a distinguished student and teacher of physics, and a tireless fighter for civil liberties and democratic rights, passed away at midnight on 23 October, 2020 at his south Kolkata residence owing to a sudden heart attack. His wife predeceased him by about two years. He was for long associated with Frontier, and contributed many articles and notes to it.

Born in a family with close connections with the then Communist Party of India, Raychaudhuri passed the Senior Cambridge examination in 1961 with high creadentials; probably he stood first among all students from Commonwealth countries studying this course. Then he entered the Presidency College in order to study physics. He soon got involved in student politics, and after the Naxalbari uprising, came out, along with his fellow travellers in students' movement, in support of it. Then he, along with Ashim Chatterjee, Santosh Rana and others, went to Midnapore in order to organise peasant struggles there. From Rana's autobiography, it is known that he was in charge of the contact centre in Kharagpur. After some initial successes in 1969-70, the movement was weakened owing to the 'line of annihilation' and it became easier for the state to crush it and arrest the organisers. Raychaudhuri and Ashim Chatterjee were themselves arrested on 3 November, 1971 in Deoghar, a town in what is now known as the state of Jharkhand.

It is possible that the setback left him depressed, and a few months later, he went to London. Otherwise, he would not have been released at all. However, he later rued the decision. In 1974, he came back with a PhD degree. Back home, he joined the Birla College for Science and Education, but was, along with a colleague, soon dismissed from service for protesting against the autocratic practices of the authorities. The teachers, however, stood in their support and the government had to takeover the management of the college in 1979. Towards the end of the 1980s, he was appointed professor of physics at the Presidency College.

In 1977-78, he got associated with the PCC, CPI(M-L), but, for some reasons, withdrew himself from active politics.

Although retired from active politics, Raychaudhuri was associated with various organisations and social activities such as the APDR, Scientific Worker's Forum, Forum for Association. He even formed a night school in a slum and used to teach there.

Frontier pays tribute to his memory.

Vol. 53, No. 20, Nov 15 - 21, 2020