When West Bengal was in the throes of the 2019 parliamentary election campaign, noted scientist, social worker and leading associate of popular movements, Dr Meher Engineer, 80, breathed his last in Kolkata’s ‘Parsi Old Age Home’ on April 24. He was the former head of the Bose Institute, one of the premier scientific institutions of the country based in Kolkata.
He was in the front ranks of the movement against the installation of the Tata Nano factory at Singur in West Bengal’s Hooghly district, one of the major agitations that eventually resulted in the demise of the Left Front Government in the State. In those days meetings of the Teachers and Scientists against Maldevelopment (TASAM) took place in his room at the Bose Institute; the two figures who led the TASAM at that time were Abhi Dutta Majumdar and Meher Engineer.
Eminent educationist Dr Engineer had plunged into social service for the poor and vulnerable on having come in contact with such social scientists and political figures as Prof Santimoy Roy. He knew that association with those who were selflessly fighting for the rights of the dispossessed would help him to stand by the side of oppressed humanity and work for the betterment of their lives. That is why he unhesitantly fought for the rights of the oustees due to the Narmada dam, the inhabitants of Singur and Nandigram threatened by displacement. He travelled far and wide as a scientist but never left his fondest city Kolkata which he made his home even when his foreign wife and children left this country to stay abroad.
In his last days he was working to ensure education and health for the children in the streets and slums. He extended help to open schools and health centres in slums and poor areas.
Dr Engineer was an integral part of the mass struggle to change the face of the city and State. An avid reader of this journal he frequently phoned the editor of this publication to speak out his mind and send greetings for any article or news that touched his heart.
He will be sorely missed by us all in Mainstream. We are at a loss for words to offer homage to his abiding memory.