Kuldip Nayar, renowned journalist, author and human rights activist who fiercely fought for press freedom and protecting civil liberties, passed away early on Thursday. He was 95.
Nayar died at around 12.30 AM at the Escorts hospital, his elder son Sudhir Nayar said.
He was suffering from pneumonia and was admitted to the hospital five days back, Sudhir Nayar said.
The journalist is survived by his wife and two sons. His last rites will be performed at Lodhi crematorium at 1 PM.
Nayar, known as a crusader for civil rights and press freedom, worked in several newspapers including as the editor in the Statesman. He was deeply interested in peaceful relations between India and Pakistan. In his autobiography Beyond The Lines, he wrote about his interview with Pakistan’s nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, during which the latter revealed that Pakistan had a nuclear device well before it was thought to have had it.
He had also served as the Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom in the 1990s and was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1997. Nayar was arrested during the Emergency.
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.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the demise of Nayar, saying his strong stand against the Emergency, public service and commitment to the country will always be remembered.
"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.
Editor of the Week magazine Sachidanand Murthy remembered Nayar's contribution in fiercely protecting press freedom and civil liberties.
"He had protested the infamous Defamation Bill which was brought by the Rajiv Gandhi government in the late 1980s. He had also worked tirelessly to ensure the protection of civil liberties in India," said Murthy.
The Defamation Bill was seen as an attempt to contain free speech in India. Following public outcry, the then government had withdrawn it.
Nayar had written a number of best sellers including 'Beyond the Lines: An Autobiography' and Between the Lines, a book on politics.
Nayar was also one of the most respected syndicated columnist and his columns and op-eds were published in over 50 newspapers.
He was born in Pakistan's Sialkot in 1923 and he began his career in journalism in Urdu press.
Condoling Nayar's death BJP president Amit Shah said, "My condolences on the sad demise of veteran journalist & former Rajya Sabha member, Kuldip Nayar ji. I had met him a few months back. He was full of energy and humour. Nayar ji's firm stand against Emergency can never be forgotten. His passing away is a loss to India's journalism."
Sitaram Yechury also tweeted, "Champion of our democratic rights, civil liberties and at the forefront of those battles, Kuldip Nayar served India with distinction. His advocacy of people to people ties with Pakistan was special. His presence in current battles would have been a source of strength. Condolences."
President Ram Nath Kovind sent his condolences by twitting that Nayar was 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 #PresidentKovind— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) August 23, 2018
Pointing out at Nayar’s work during emergency Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in a tweet said that he will be “remembered for opposing 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.— Arun Jaitley (@arunjaitley) August 23, 2018
Amit Shah, National President of Bharatiya Janata Party, also sent his condolences saying “His passing away is a loss to India’s journalism.”
My condolences on the sad demise of veteran journalist & former Rajya Sabha member, Kuldip Nayar ji. I had met him a few months back, he was full of energy and humor. Nayar ji's firm stand against Emergency can never be forgotten. His passing away is a loss to India’s journalism. pic.twitter.com/G0wCk2nsNZ— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) August 23, 2018
Mamata Banerjee regarded Nayar as a “fearless, popular veteran journalist”.
Saddened at the passing away of fearless, popular veteran journalist and author Kuldip Nayar. My condolences to his family, admirers and colleagues— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) August 23, 2018
Historian Ramachandra Guha said Nayar was a journalist “who followed the dictates of his conscience rather than the lure of money or fame”.
Sorry to hear of Kuldip Nayar's passing. As I wrote here, he was a journalist who followed the dictates of his conscience rather than the lure of money or fame:https://t.co/zn8AL2sSx3— Ramachandra Guha (@Ram_Guha) August 23, 2018
(With inputs from PTI)