Monday, 22 April, 2024

Kuldip Nayar: An advocate of peace

By Mohan Sahay

Newswave@ New Delhi

Veteran journalist and writer Kuldip Nayar died at the age of 95 in Delhi after a brief illness. Born in Sialkot and educated in Lahore (Pakistan), he was well versed in Urdu language. In the initial years of his career as a journalist Nayar was reporting for Urdu newspaper.

Kuldip Nayar

He got recognition as a journalist in English language when he joined Delhi edition of The Statesman. Later he became Resident Editor of The Statesman in Delhi. His writings created impact when he covered JP movement of 1974-75. He visited Bihar several times to report on Jaya Prakash Narayan movement and also interviewed JP.

Nayar was first amongst journalists to be arrested during the Emergency of 1975. When Emergency was lifted and the Congress Government led by Indira Gandhi lost general elections in 1977, Nayar was one of few journalists who wrote instant books on wrong doings of the government during the Emergency. His book The Judgment published in 1977 sold like hot cake.

Press advisor to Lal Bahadur Shastri

Nayar also held offices of High Commissioner to United Kingdom and was Press advisor to former Prme Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. Nayar had accompanied Shastri to Tashkent and was there when Shastri died under mysterious circumstances. Nayar’s conduct and role as Press advisor to Prime Minister Shastri particularly in Tashkent was criticized for his failure to throw light on the circumstances leading to the death of the Indian Prime Minister.

Nayar was also criticised for his observations about Shastri in his autobiography Beyond the Lines wherein he quoted Shastri telling Nayar that “I am not Sadhu as you think about me”. Shastri would never have told this kind of thing about himself. Nayar had drawn inference that Shastri too like any other politician was angling to become Prime Minister when Nehru was alive and was Prime Minister of India.

All Congress leaders including Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi knew that Shastri was a ‘saint’ a ‘sadhu’, indeed. It was Nehru who had wished Shastri to succeed him seeing his integrity and commitment to the nation. There are many factual errors and inaccuracies in his autobiography that were pointed out and even commented upon by some of his fellow journalists and commentators.

Being born and brought up in Pakistan, Nayar was an advocate of peace with Pakistan. He led several delegations to Pakistan and was mediator between the two countries for peace.

Nayar was a prolific writer

My last interaction with Nayar was in Varanasi where we shared the dais at a seminar organized in the holy city in mid 1990s. Nayar was a prolific writer. More than dozen titles are to his credit. His weekly column Between the Lines in The Statesman was popular as readers looked forward to his writing in the daily.

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