New Delhi, Aug 23 : Senior journalist, author and human rights activist Kuldip Nayar died at a hospital here. He was 95, his family said on Thursday.
Nayar breathed his last at the Escorts Hospital at 12.30 a.m. The cremation will take place at 1 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.
Born on August 14, 1923, in Sialkot (Pakistan), Nayar was among the country’s first syndicated columnists and wrote several books.
He was appointed High Commissioner to the UK in 1990 and nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1997.
Nayar started his journalistic career with the Urdu daily “Anjam” in 1948. He worked in the Press Information Bureau as a Press Officer to then Home Ministers Govind Ballabh Pant and Lal Bahadur Shastri.
He was the editor and General Manager of United News of India (UNI) and also the editor of The Statesman. He also worked with the Indian Express, The Times, The Spectator and the Evening Star.
He was also the author of 15 books including “Beyond the Lines”, “India after Nehru” and “Emergency Retold”.
Senior journalist H.K. Dua, who knew Nayar for 54 years, described him as a “good friend”, a “great journalist” and said his death was a loss to the profession.
“Till the last, he was working. At the age of 94, he kept his interest alive in the news world. He was a great chaser of news and broke many stories in his life. He knew much more of what was happening behind the news than many other journalists and got lots of inside information. Essentially, he remained a thorough journalist,” Dua told IANS.
He said Nayar also made efforts for peace between India and Pakistan and organised candle-light demonstrations.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind were among leaders who condoled Nayar’s death.
Modi termed him an intellectual giant and recalled his role as a staunch opponent of the Emergency.
“Kuldip Nayar was an intellectual giant of our times. Frank and fearless in his views, his work spanned across many decades. His strong stand against the Emergency, public service and commitment to a better India will always be remembered. Saddened by his demise. My condolences,” Modi said in a tweet.
Kovind described him as a determined champion of democracy.
“Sad to hear of the passing of Kuldip Nayar, veteran editor and writer, diplomat and parliamentarian, and a determined champion of democracy during the Emergency. His readers will miss him. Condolences to his family and associates,” he said in a tweet.
President, PM, political leaders condole Kuldip Nayar’s death
President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several other political leaders on Thursday condoled the death of veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar and remembered his “strong stand” against the Emergency and commitment to a better India.
Nayar breathed his last at the Escorts Hospital here at 12.30 a.m. He was 95.
“Sad to hear of the passing of Kuldip Nayar, veteran editor and writer, diplomat and parliamentarian, and a determined champion of democracy during the Emergency. His readers will miss him. Condolences to his family and associates,” the President tweeted.
Expressing his condolences, Modi tweeted: “Kuldip Nayar was an intellectual giant of our times. Frank and fearless in his views, his work spanned across many decades.
“His strong stand against the Emergency, public service and commitment to a better India will always be remembered. Saddened by his demise. My condolences.”
Nayar started his career with the Urdu newspaper “Anjam” and was the author of 15 books including “Beyond the Lines”, “India after Nehru” and “Emergency Retold”.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he was “saddened by the sudden demise of senior journalist, columnist and former MP, Kuldip Nayar”.
“As a columnist he candidly expressed his views in his widely read column ‘Between the Lines’. His contribution to journalism will be remembered. My thoughts are with his bereaved family,” Rajnath Singh tweeted.
Remembering his meeting with Nayar a few months ago, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah said “he was full of energy and humour”.
“My condolences on the sad demise of veteran journalist and former Rajya Sabha member, Kuldip Nayar ji… Nayar ji’s firm stand against Emergency can never be forgotten. His passing away is a loss to India’s journalism.”
The Congress Party also expressed sadness over Nayar’s demise.
“We are saddened to hear about the passing of Kuldip Nayar. A veteran journalist, his career also included a tenure as a Rajya Sabha MP and as the high commissioner to United Kingdom. Our deepest condolences to his family,” the party tweeted.
Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor Arvind Kejriwal said the death of Nayar was a “huge loss to the nation”.
“Sad news coming in about the passing away of noted journalist and human rights crusader Kuldip Nayar. He will be missed for his fight for press freedom and democratic values in these testing times.”
West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee extended her condolences to his family, admirers and colleagues.
Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPI-M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said: “Champion of our democratic rights, civil liberties and at the forefront of those battles, Kuldip Nayar served India with distinction. His advocacy of people to people ties with Pakistan was special. His presence in current battles would have been a source of strength. Condolences.”
CPI-M politburo member and MP Md Salim said Nayar was an “exemplary human being, a true champion of peace, an uncompromising fighter for secularism, democratic and human rights and free speech. A huge loss for the subcontinental fraternity”.
Nayar’s cremation will take place at 1 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.