Veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar dead (Roundup)

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New Delhi : Veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, who fell foul of the establishment and was jailed during Emergency and a peacenik on Indo-Pak relations, died at a hospital here. He was 95.

He breathed his last at 12.30 a.m. at the Escorts Hospital, where he was brought for treatment of pneumonia five days ago. He is survived by his wife Bharti and two sons, Sudhir, who lit the funeral pyre, and Rajiv.

Nayar was cremated at the Lodhi electric crematorium in the presence of dignitaries including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia, rebel Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav besides journalist-turned politician M J Akbar, senior journalists Arun Shourie and Siddharath Varadarajan.

Born on August 14, 1923, in Sialkot ( Pakistan), Nayar was a multi-faceted personality who was among the country's first syndicated columnists. He had served as India's High Commissioner to Britain in 1990 and was 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 had authored 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.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind, Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, were among the 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.

In his condolence, Singh said Nayar had served the country with distinction in various capacities. "He was a veteran journalist, diplomat, parliamentarian and author. He wore many hats in his decades of public life... I write to convey to you and members of your family my heartfelt condolences on this sad occasion."

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Nayar will be best remembered for his struggle against the Emergency.

"Saddened by the death of the veteran Journalist Sh. Kuldip Nayar. His contribution to the cause of free speech is unparalleled. He is credited with breaking some of the most exclusive news stories. Will be best remembered for his struggle against the Emergency," Jaitley said.