Kuldip Nayar, renowned journalist, author and human rights activist passed away on Thursday in Delhi. He was 95. He is survived by his wife and two sons. His last rites will be performed at 1pm today at Lodhi crematorium in Delhi.Nayar fought fiercely for press freedom, especially during Emergency. In 2015, he was honoured with the Ramnath Goenka Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to journalism. He authored 15 books including “Beyond the Lines”, “India after Nehru” and “Emergency Retold”. In the 90s, Nayar served as High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom. He was nominated to Rajya Sabha in 1997.
Born in Sialkot (now in Pakistan) in 1923, Nayar 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 across the world.Nayar was among the journalists who had staunchly opposed the Emergency imposed by then prime ministerIndira 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 “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 was also known for his efforts to improve frosty relationship between India and Pakistan including leading peace activists to light candles on the Independence days of Pakistan and India at the Attari-Wagah border near Amritsar.
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,” Meera had said.