Kuldip Nayar, renowned journalist, author and human rights activist passed away on Thursday. 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.
His last rites will be performed at 1 pm today at Lodhi crematorium. He is survived by his wife and two sons. Nayar also served as High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom in 1990 and as a member of the Rajya Sabha.
Nayar was one of few top journalists of the country , who had highlighted Assam Movement at national level in 80s. The veteran journalist had allocated Rs 2 crore from his MPLAD fund for computer literacy drive in Assam.
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 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 called him an “intellectual giant” and “frank and fearless.
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