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Kuldip Nayar – The Bhisham Pitamah of Indian Journalism

Veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar (file photo)

By S M Anwar Hussain,

The sad demise of Mr Kuldeep Nayar is a huge blow to Indian journalism which is striving hard to survive as a free and independent journalism. He was one of the strongest pillars of Indian journalism. Truly speaking, he was the Bhisham Pitamah of Indian journalism, and the bravest face of journalism against all odds. He refused to bow down before the dictates of Mrs Indra Gandhi during the emergency and took up cudgels against her. He was one of the few journalists who kept the flag of independent journalism flying during the dark days of ‘Emergency’. when saying anything against the policies of the government made you deserve a small and dark cell—and he too had to spend some time in jail.

Born (in 1923) and brought up in Sialkot( Pakistan) he did his schooling at Sialkot and then moved to Lahore to obtain his B.A.(Hons) degree from the Christian College, also obtained a Law degree from the Law College at Lahor. Later in 1952 , he studied Journalismz at Medil School of Journalism, Britain on a scholarship.

He was very young, just in his early twenties when he saw a sudden and almost total collapse of ‘trust’ between Hindus and Muslims that was there for several centuries. He was shocked and disappointed. In spite of holding a degree in Law, he decided to take journalism as his career, and started writing on political, social and communal issues. He was a great champion of harmony between Hindus and Muslims. Many people will be surprised, and the Urdu baiters will be shocked, to know that he started his writing careers from Urdu press. From there he rose to the position of the editor of English daily like The Statesman, and was associated with many other English dailies of the country. Later he emerged as great columnist and his columns appeared almost in eighty news papers, including Dawn from Karachi started by Jinnah, in 14 languages . His articles written in Urdu appeared in Urdu news papers and magazines on a regular basis. He was a great writer and authored 14 books on different subjects. He was a great political commentator of his time and expressed his opinion and views without any fear, and he was never reported to be trapped by any allurement. He considered Jinnah and his Muslim League responsible for partition, but also did not spare Congress and Nehru for their failure to avoid the tragedy of partition.He did not confine himself to the realm of writing. He was a diplomat too and rose to the position of Indian High Commissioner of / to UK. He was also a member of Rajaya Sabha.He was one of the men who envisioned SAARC and always worked ( as behind the curtain diplomacy) for friendship and amity among the people of South Asian Countries.

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He didn’t die young. He lived a full life and died at the age of 95, but “Mother India” must have donned black robe today to mourn and wail the death of her brave son who always stood for an India that is forward looking, democratic, secular, inclusive, strong and not fragmented. Although he was a personal sufferer of partition of India and had personally watched the horror on this side and that side of the border, he always stood for a friendly relation between India and Pakistan, and was always working to diffuse the tensions between the two nations.

When Vajpayeeji was breathing his last, as a man of conscience, he must have been confronted with two huge burdens on his conscience: The destruction of Babri Masjid resulting into bloodshed and mayhem of Muslims in many parts of India, and remaining silent— deaf, dumb and blind when Mr Modi kept on maiming and suffocating Muslims in Gujrat in the name of self-engineered ‘Godhra Carnage’ till they were brought to complete subjugation and silence. Actually Mr Vajpayee remained torn apart between humane Hinduism that he had nurtured in his heart and the barbaric and Bhagua Hinduism that was parroted to him in RSS ‘pathshalas.’ And I am sure Mr Kuldeep Nayar must not have faced such moments. He was also a man of conscience; and he wrote and spoke and stood for that was compatible with his own conscience. He always wrote without fear and favour and what he believed in. One may agree or disagree with his opinions and beliefs but can never accuse him of dishonesty. However, I am not discharging him of possible human error/s of judgement.

***

(The author is former president of  AMU Students’ Union. He can be reached at:
smanwarhussain2009@gmail. com )

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