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Renowned social worker Sindhutai Sapkal passes away at 74

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Pune, Jan 4: Renowned social worker Sindhutai Sapkal, fondly known as orphan children's mother', died following a heart attack at a private hospital here, doctors said. Sapkal, who had received the Padma Shri last year, had completed 74 years in November.

She had been admitted to the Galaxy Care Hospital here. "She had undergone a hernia surgery one and a half months ago and recovery was very slow. Today she died of a heart attack around 8 pm," said Dr Shailesh Puntambekar, Medical Director of the hospital. Sapkal, who grew up in extreme poverty and had to suffer immense hardship, went on to set up institutes for orphan children.

Renowned social worker Sindhutai Sapkal passes away at 74

Born on November 14, 1948, in the Wardha district of Maharashtra, Sapkal was forced to drop out of school after she had passed Std 4th. At the tender age of 12, she was married to a 32-year-old man. After she gave birth to three children, her husband abandoned her even when she was pregnant. Her own mother and the village where she had grown up refused to help, forcing her to beg to raise her daughters at one point.

She overcame these circumstances with sheer willpower and started working for orphans. Having raised over 1,050 orphan children, she could boast of having 207 sons-in-law and 36 daughters-in-law. Besides the Padma award, she received more than 750 awards and honours. She used the award money to build shelters for orphans. A well-equipped orphanage came up at Manjri in Pune district due to her efforts.

In 2010, a Marathi biopic on her, "Mee Sindhutai Sapkal" released. It was selected for world premiere at the 54th London Film Festival. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray condoled her death. Sapkal, who took care of thousands of children, was a veritable goddess in the form of mother, he said.
Her last rites would be conducted with state honours on Wednesday, a tweet from the Chief Minister's Office said. BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said that in her death, Maharashtra had lost a mother. She grew up facing adversities and dedicated her life to those who had been rejected by society, he said on Twitter. PTI

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