RIP Kuldip Nayar: The man who believed 'Partition was not inevitable'
New Delhi, Aug 23: The grand old man of Indian journalism Kuldip Nayar, in a career spanning over six decades, has keenly observed at first hand the collapse of trust between Hindus and Muslims.
The book Tales of Two Cities, co-authored with senior Pakistani journalist Asif Noorani, Nayyar gives his personal accounts of the Partition of India, the killings and massive migrations. Nayar writes, "Was it inevitable, I ask? Could its thirst for blood have been slaked by some means other than India's division? Holding Jinnah and Nehru equally "responsible", Nayar explains the Partition was not inevitable to begin with. The Cabinet Mission Plan held a promise of resolution but as events panned out and Nehru and Jinnah remained implacable, it became inevitable."
His concerns are not just confined to words. Every year since 2000, Nayyar has 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 has been working to free Indian prisoners in Pakistan and Pakistani prisoners in India, who have completed their sentences, but have not been set free.
Nayar was arrested under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) for leading a protest against the excesses of the administration during the Emergency imposed by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi.
Born in Sialkot (now in Pakistan), Kuldip Nayar, moved to India and built his life from the scratch. He has met, interviewed and written about major figures in India's, as well as the world's, political life: Indira Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Jai Prakash Narayan, Mujibur Rahman, Ziaul Haq, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan.
He entitled his autobiography as 'Beyond the Line'. He is also the author of 15 books including Beyond the Lines, Distant Neighbours: A Tale of the Subcontinent, India after Nehru, Wall at Wagah, India-Pakistan Relationship, The Judgement, The Martyr, Scoop and India House.