Hailing him as a “staunch defender” of press freedom and civil liberties, friends, family and admirers of Kuldip Nayar on Friday gathered here to mourn his loss, and said carrying forward the values he espoused would be a “true tribute” to the veteran journalist.
The Press Club of India (PCI) and the Indian Women Press Corps (IWPC) organised a memorial meet at the Club premises in honour of Nayar, who died here aged 95 on August 23.
Press Association president Jaishankar Gupta described him as a man who was a “living history”.
“He saw the pre-Independence era and the post-Independence era, Emergency and post-Emergency period. He was a staunch defender of press freedom and fought fiercely for civil liberties. His loss is more poignant at a time when freedom of expression is under strain,” he said.
Gupta alleged that the kind of “attacks” on the press freedom taking place today is such that was “not even seen” during the Emergency days.
“And, therefore, we must take a pledge to carry forward the values he stood for and that would be the true tribute to Nayar sahab,” he said.
Granddaughter Mandira Nayar, a journalist, while remembering him as a “doyen of journalism” and “eternal optimist” also recalled his grandfather’s “love for dark chocolates”.
“Everyone knows him as a serious journalist, and he was a very serious journalist. He was giant but, was never conscious of it. However, he had a weakness for dark chocolates, which he devoured every night,” an emotional Mandira reminisced.
“He also loved movies and cricket. He was a defender of civil liberties, a humanist and a peace activist till the end. For us as a family, it is a tremendous loss, but I realised after meeting people from our fraternity that they also felt a sense of loss,” she said.
Born in 1923 in Pakistan’s Sialkot, Nayar worked in several newspapers including as the editor in The Statesman. He was arrested during the Emergency.
In today’s alleged polarised atmosphere, “It is all the more important to remember the legacy of a man, who was a crusader of civil rights and defender of democratic rights,” senior journalist and IPCW president, T K Rajalakshmi said.
“He was born in undivided India and was uprooted after suffering the brunt of partition. But, he never carried any bitterness about Pakistan or against anything or anyone. He had such warmth,” she said.
Delhi-based fimmaker Meera Dewan, who made a biographical documentary on the life of the eminent journalist and author, also attended the meet.
The film—In his Inner Voice: Kuldip Nayar, commissioned by the Films Division was completed earlier this year.
“The premier took place at IIC in September and the auditorium was jam-packed, people sat on the aisles. And, I feel happy that Nayar sahab could see the film. His instant reaction on seeing the turnout was—‘How come so many people here?’ Such was his humility,” she told PTI.
A garlanded portrait of Nayar was placed at the venue and a moment of silence was also observed after which people paid floral tribute to him.
Press Club’s Secretary General Vinay Kumar said, “Our small library and a reading room at Press Club will keep alive the words and works of many stalwarts of journalism, including Nayar sahab.”
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on the day of Nayar’s death had hailed the veteran journalist, and said his departure was a “great loss” to the nation as he was one of the strongest voices for press freedom and democratic rights, “especially in today’s atmosphere.