Neelabh Ashk, born on 16 August 1945 in Mumbai and brought up in Allahabad, passed away on 23 July 2016. His contribution to the revolutionary Left cultural stream as a poet, journalist, playwright, critic, publisher, organizer and fighting cultural activist will always be remembered. He played active leadership roles in the Jan Sanskriti Manch for a decade after its inception in 1985. It was Neelabhji who played the chief role in the collection, editing and publication of the poet Gorakh Pandey’s first anthology- “Loha Garam Ho Gaya Hai” by JASAM, after his death. In 1991 he took great pains to publish the first collections of poems by Left revolutionary poets Viren Dangwal and Balli Singh Cheema.
In 1988-89 he led the memorable movement for the autonomy of the North-Central Regional Cultural Centre in Allahabad. He had a strong relationship with the Progressive Students’ Organization and workers’ and human rights movements.
He translated Brecht’s “Exception and Rule” under the title “Niyam ka Randa, Apvaad ka Phanda” and directed it himself for the “Dasta” team. His translations of Pablo Neruda’s poems and Lermetyov’s novel “Hero of our Times” are gems of translation literature. He also translated “King Lear” and Brecht’s “Mother Courage”. Some years ago he was nominated for the Sahitya Akademi award for translation but he refused the award as a protest against the suppressive policies of the government. He also translated Arundhati Roy’s ‘The God of Small Things’ into Hindi.