Eminent writer and journalist Kuldip Nayar passed away in New Delhi on August 23, 2018, following a brief illness. He was 95. Nayar, a Punjabi, was born in Sialkot in 1923. When Emergency was declared, he was one of the first journalists to be put in jail.
Mr. Nayar 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.
As a journalist, he had documented in detail, human rights violations by the State. He was also the High Commissioner of India to the U.K. and nominated to the Rajya Sabha. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal paid tributes to Mr. Nayar.
Nayar was born at Sialkot, Punjab, British India on 14 August 1923 to Gurbaksh Singh and Pooran Devi. He completed his B.A. (Hons.) from the Forman Christian College Lahore and LL.B. from the Law College Lahore. He is father to Senior Advocate of Supreme Court, Mr. Rajiv Nayar. In 1952, he studied journalism from the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University on a scholarship.
Nayar was initially an Urdu press reporter. He was editor of the Delhi edition of the English newspaper The Statesman and was arrested towards the end of the Indian Emergency (1975-77). He was also a human right activist and a peace activist. He was a member of India’s delegation to the United Nations in 1996. He was appointed High Commissioner to Great Britain in 1990 and nominated to the upper house of Indian Parliament, Rajya Sabha in August 1997.
He has written columns and op-eds for over 80 newspapers in 14 languages including Deccan Herald (Bengaluru), The Daily Star, The Sunday Guardian, The News, The Statesman, The Express Tribune Pakistan, Dawn Pakistan,] Prabha Sakshi and many more.
Every year since 2000, Nayar had been leading peace activists to light candles on the Independence days of Pakistan and India (14/15 August) at the Attari-Wagah India-Pakistan border near Amritsar. He had been working to free Indian prisoners in Pakistan and Pakistani prisoners in India, who have completed their sentences, but have not been set free.
As a political commentator, Nayar wrote his views freely on most politically current issues. He had supported the movement of Anna Hazare and chided the Pakistan Government for not apologising for the army atrocities in East Pakistan in 1971 that led to the formation of Bangladesh, and for allowing drugs to be smuggled into India.
Nayar had been accused of supporting anti-Indian conspiracy theories. In a Feb 2010 article in Pakistani newspaper Dawn, he alleged that the Indian anti-terrorism squad leader Hemant Karkare was murdered by Hindu right-wing activists. In July 2011 US Authorities confirmed that Nayar attended many events in United States hosted by and supported by Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, which had been funded by Pakistan ISI. Among other honours, the renowned journalist had bagged 2003 Astor Award for Press Freedom and 2007 Shaheed Niyogi Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement.