A file photo of CPI leader Govind Pansare at a protest rally against the Maharashtra government’s SEZ land policy at Azad Maidan. (HT photo)

Five days after he was shot at in Kolhapur, senior Communist Party of India (CPI) leader and rationalist Govind Pansare died in Mumbai late on Friday. The 82-year-old anti-toll activist was airlifted to Mumbai on Friday morning and was admitted to Breach Candy hospital for further treatment.

Dr TP Lahane, dean of JJ Hospital, Byculla, who was closely monitoring Pansare’s condition, confirmed his death. “There was bleeding in the lungs which caused his death,” said Lahane. “His body will be shifted to JJ Hospital for an autopsy.”

Pansare, whose body will be flown to Kolhapur for the last rites on Saturday, was accompanied to Mumbai by his daughter-in-law Medha and a doctor.

Pansare and his wife were shot at while they were returning from a morning walk on Monday. The attack was eerily similar to the shooting of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar.

Pansare’s death comes as a setback to the BJP-led state government, which had criticised the Congress-NCP government over the death of Dabholkar.

CM Devendra Fadnavis visited the hospital late on Friday. “Maharashtra has lost a progressive leader. The state will always remember his contribution for giving justice to the poor and depressed classes,” he tweeted.

Pansare was known for his advocacy for rights of people from the lower most strata of society. Born on November 26, 1933 in Kolhar in Ahmednagar district, Pansare’s family lost its farm to moneylenders.

“Since childhood, he was uncomfortable with the present social system. After being the member of CPI, fighting for the rights of small time workers had become part of his life,” said Ajit Abhyankar, CPI(M) general secretary.

Last among the five children, Pansare shifted to Kolhapur for higher studies. At Rajaram College in Kolhapur, Pansare completed his graduation, which was followed by a law degree. During his college days, Pansare participated in several movements which included the Goa freedom struggle.

Despite being a part of the CPI, Pansare had spoken against some of the practices the party followed, often complaining that the communist moment could not succeed in becoming mainstream in the society.

He wrote 21 book, most them were commentaries on the wrong practices in the society. His book “who was Shivaji”, a commentary on how fundamentalists misused the image of Shivaji against Muslims, drew strong opposition.

Around a fortnight ago, Pansare was addressing students at the Shivaji University when he faced protests from a few students after he spoke against the glorification of Nathuram Godse by certain quarters in the society.

A week ago, he was speaking at a programme on the 26/11 attacks when he made certain references about the late ATS chief Hemant Karkare’s death. According to sources, he received threats from fringe elements for these references.