Obituary – Com Pramila Pandhe

Com Pramila Pandhe, AIDWA veteran founder leader is no more. She was 94 years old. After battling prolonged illness, she left us on October 31, 2021.

Pramiladi was born on November 26, 1927 in Bhusawal, Maharashtra. Her father, an official in the railway, was not politically active but was a follower of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and supported his ideas about independence. She started going for the ‘prabhat pheris’ at the age of 7 with all the other children. She along with other children used to do picketing, raising slogans and sing patriotic songs.  

She was influenced by her English and Maths school teachers in Bhusawal who were communists. She joined the Rashtra Seva Dal as a young girl before 1936. In 1937, she joined the Salt Satyagraha started by Mahatma Gandhi. She was arrested on August 9 during the Bharat Chodo Andolan in 1942 during a demonstration and sent to Faizpur jail. She was 15 years old then. Her father was upset at his daughter being arrested and got her released after 5 days. Pramiladi had said in an interview that nobody knew about her communist leanings and they only saw it as political activity. Her brother who was studying medicine in Indore was also active in the freedom struggle and had also got arrested.

She studied upto ninth standard after which she was married to Dattatray Limaye in 1945. He belonged to a communist family and was a communist himself. She had met him when he was working along with her brother. She was happy to be married to a communist.

Pramiladi joined the All India Students’ Federation in 1946 in Pune. She used to participate in all the political campaigns and also raise student issues. She was a member of the singing and acting squads. Communist cultural squads led by Amar Shaikh, Datta Gawankar and Annabhau Sathe used to train them and also wrote plays in which they acted.  On behalf of the party, she used to go to areas where Gandhiji was working in sweeper’s colonies. They took up their problems and helped to solve them. When the ration system started in 1944, they managed to get ration cards for people in these colonies.

She used to sell the party organ—People’s War and later People’s Age. She faced harassment by the Congress goons who used to snatch the party papers and burn them. They started moving in a group and used to go around the city of Pune on bicycles for party work. She was actively involved in party activities since 1947.

Pramiladi became party member only in 1948, as candidate member. Since the party was banned, party work could not be done openly. Only underground activities could be organized. Many of the leaders were arrested. She became a part of the team of couriers for the party.

Com Pandhe was also in jail at that time. Pramiladi saw him first when she went to meet her brother-in-law in Yerawada jail in 1949. Pramiladi got in touch with many of our veteran women leaders namely, Ahilya Rangnekar, Kusum Ranadive, Godavari Parulekar and others.

Pramiladi’s husband passed away in 1957. She completed her matriculation in 1957 after joining Seva Sadan. In 1968 graduated from DU (open) in history and economics, where she met Com Pandhe’s sister who was also studying there. She later married Com M K Pandhe who was also a veteran leader of the Left movement. 

Pramiladi was a staunch advocate of women’s rights. She firmly stood against communalism and refused to be a part of any religious rituals. She played an important role in laying the foundation of the All India Democratic Women’s Association. The women’s movement has lost one of its sterling leaders who dedicated her entire life for the emancipation of the poor and women.