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Kuldip Nayar, Veteran Journalist and Former Diplomat, Passes Away at 95; President, PM Send Condolences

Kuldip Nayar is survived by his wife and two sons. His last rites will be performed at Lodhi crematorium.


Updated:August 23, 2018, 5:56 PM IST

New Delhi: Eminent journalist and author Kuldip Nayar, who fought fiercely for press freedom and civil liberties, died here early on Thursday. He was 95.

Nayar died around 12.30 am at the Escorts hospital, his elder son Sudhir Nayar said. He was suffering from pneumonia and was admitted to the hospital five days back.

The veteran journalist, a proponent of India-Pakistan peace, is survived by his wife and two sons. His last rites were performed at the Lodhi crematorium in New Delhi at 1 pm.

Nayar, who was born in Sialkot in Pakistan in 1923, began his career in journalism in the Urdu language press and went on to serve as editor of several newspapers, including Indian Express and The Statesman.

Known not just as one of India's most respected journalists but also as an advocate for human rights, Nayar served as India's high commissioner to the United Kingdom in the 1990s and was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1997. The journalist-author was arrested during the Emergency.

Condolences poured in as news of his death came in.

Describing Nayar as a veteran editor and writer, diplomat and parliamentarian, President Ram Nath Kovind said he was "a determined champion of democracy during the Emergency" and would be missed by his readers.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Nayar's strong stand against the Emergency, public service and commitment to the country will always be remembered.

"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.

The Editors Guild of India said in its message that Nayar's many legendary news scoops will continue to inspire generations of young journalists for their sharpness, credibility, speed and standards of due diligence.

Nayar, a founder member and president of the Guild, was one of the doyens of Indian journalism, it said in a statement.

Terming him a "reporter's editor", the Guild said he held many leadership positions in news organisations, providing both edge and depth to their formidable team of reporters and editors.

"An exemplar, Kuldip Nayar fought through his writings the oppressive Emergency regime that had imposed curbs on media freedom and as a result of which he was also arrested," it said.

The Guild, it said, will also soon consider a proposal to honour Kuldip Nayar's memory and contributions to journalism.

BJP president Amit Shah, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley were among the others who condoled the death of the veteran journalist, whose columns and op-eds were published in over 50 newspapers.

Editor of The Week magazine Sachidanand Murthy remembered Nayar's contribution in protecting press freedom and civil liberties.

"He had protested the infamous Defamation Bill which was brought by the Rajiv Gandhi government in late 1980s. He had also worked tirelessly to ensure protection of civil liberties in India," said Murthy.

The Defamation Bill was seen as an attempt to contain free speech in India. The government withdrew the bill following massive protests.

The journalist, who in historian Ramachandra Guha's words followed the dictates of his conscience rather than the lure of money or fame, wrote several bestsellers, including "Beyond the Lines: An Autobiography" and "Between the Lines".

One of Nayar's most enduring images will be of him leading peace activists in lighting candles at the Attari-Wagah border on the Independence Days of India and Pakistan -- while India celebrates its Independence Day on August 15, Pakistan does so a day earlier.

| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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