Kuldip Nayar, one of the doyens of Indian journalism and renowned author-cum rights activist who fiercely fought for media freedom and civil liberties, died in a hospital in Delhi early today. He was 95.
Nayar died around 12:30am at the Escorts Hospital, our New Delhi correspondent reports quoting his elder son Sudhir Nayar.
He was suffering from pneumonia and was admitted to the hospital five days back, said Sudhir.
Nayar is survived by his wife and two sons.
Nayar, a former editor of The Indian Express newspaper, was also the author of 15 books including “Beyond the Lines”, “India after Nehru” and “Emergency Retold”.
In 2015, he was honoured with Ramnath Goenka ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for his contribution to journalism
Nayar also served as High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom in 1990 and was a member of the Rajya Sabha, upper House of Indian parliament, in 1997.
Nayar was among the journalists who had staunchly opposed the Emergency imposed by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1976-77 and suffered imprisonment for leading a protest against that.
He had also taken to the streets along with other leading names of Indian journalism like K R Malkani and Khushwant Singh, against the Defamation Bill brought by the Rajiv Gandhi government in late eighties.
Nayar was a votary of strong relationship between India and Pakistan and led candle marches of peace activists on the Independence days of Pakistan and India at the Attari-Wagah between the two countries near Amritsar almost every year without fail.
Born in Sialkot, now in Pakistan, in 1923, Nayar graduated in law and studied journalism and began his career with an Urdu newspaper Anjam. He later headed various newspapers in Delhi.
Widely known for his columns, he wrote for newspapers both in India and outside including The Daily Star.
A documentary called “In His Inner Voice: Kuldip Nayar”was made by Meera Dewan, a filmmaker, for government of India’s 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,” Meera had said.
In his autobiography published in 2012, Nayar wrote about the collapse of trust between communities after the Partition and how he was forced to migrate to Delhi.
"From his perilous journey to a new country and to his first job as a young journalist in an Urdu daily, Nayar's account is also the story of India," the introduction to the book reads.
Nayar has covered several historical events from the 1971 war with Pakistan to liberate Bangladesh to the Emergency of 1975.
Tributes poured in from all corners for Nayar with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi describing him as 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,” Modi tweeted.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said Nayar's contribution to journalism will be remembered. "My thoughts and prayers are with his bereaved family."