Bangalore:

Well-known Kannada poet Siddalingaiah died on Friday from ailments related to COVID-19, sources close to him said.

Popularly known as “Dalita Kavi” (Dalit Poet), he was 67 years old. He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

According to sources, he was admitted to a private hospital for more than a month and had been on respiratory assistance for some time.

His wife was also infected with COVID-19 and has recovered.

Siddalingaiah was a Dalit poet, playwright, essayist and activist, and was one of the founders of Dalita Sangharsh Samiti.

His notable works include Holemadigara Haadu, Saaviraaru Nadigalu, Kappu Kaadina Haadu, and Meravanige, among others.

He had written plays such as Panchama, Ekalavya, and one of his popular essays was Gramadevathegalu.

Several of his works have been translated into English and other languages, and his autobiography of Ooru Keri earned him the Sahitya Akademi Award.

Siddalingaiah also received the Pampa Prize, the highest literary prize in Kannada, presented by the state government, the Hampi University Nadoja Prize, and the Rajyostava Prize, among others.

He also chaired the 81st Kannada Sahitya Sammelana (a major gathering of Kannada literature) held in Shravanabelagola.

He had also served as a member of the Karnataka Legislative Council and Chairman of the Kannada Development Authority, a Cabinet rank position, and had taught Kannada at the University of Bangalore. The Chief Minister, BS Yediyurappa, mourned the death of Siddalingaiah.

“In his death, we have lost a great writer with social concern, who fought for the elevation of the depressed classes,” said the Chief Minister in his message of condolence.

Former HD Prime Minister Deve Gowda, several of Yediyurappa’s cabinet colleagues, and opposition leader Siddaramaiah, JD (S) HD leader Kumaraswamy, among others, have expressed grief over Siddalingaiah’s death.