Kuldip Nayar, renowned journalist, author and human rights activist passed away on Thursday in Delhi. He was 95. Nayar, a former editor of The Indian Express, was also the author of 15 books including “Beyond the Lines”, “India after Nehru” and “Emergency Retold”. In 2015, he was honoured with ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for his contribution to journalism at the eighth edition of the Ramnath Goenka Excellence awards. Nayar also served as High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom in 1990 and as a member of the Rajya Sabha in 1997.
Nayar was among the journalists who had staunchly opposed the Emergency imposed by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi. During Emergency, he was jailed under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) for leading a protest against the excesses of the administration.
Reflecting on the emergency period in India, Nayar in an opinion piece in The Indian Express wrote, “If I were to explain this failing to the Indians of today or tomorrow, I would say that we faltered as a nation. Indira Gandhi switched off the lights of democracy to make us grope in the darkness of police raj.” He also expressed dismay over the way the “soft Hindutva is overtaking the print and electronic media.” “Seeing how conformist the press is today, I don’t think it would be necessary for the government to take any extra-constitutional measures. Newspapers and television channels have themselves become so pro-establishment that the government doesn’t have to do anything to make them fall in line,” he wrote.
Nayar’s resistance to Emergency was also hailed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “I respect veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar ji, he fought for freedom during the emergency, he may be a harsh critic of us but I salute him for this,” he had said. Condoling Nayar’s death, Modi today (Thursday) called him an “intellectual giant” and “frank and fearless.”
Nayar born in Sialkot in 1923, graduated in law. He studied journalism and began his career with an Urdu newspaper called Anjam. He later headed various newspapers in Delhi. He was a widely known columnist and wrote for newspapers both in India and outside. He is survived by his wife and two sons. His last rites will be performed at 1 pm today at Lodhi crematorium in Delhi, The Indian Express reports.
Meera Dewan, a filmmaker, had also made a film called In His Inner Voice: Kuldip Nayar for Films Division. “My aim was to show the history of the Partition and post-Independent India through the journey of a man who has been the nation’s conscience keeper,” said Meera had said.
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