Renowned satirist, journalist Khushwant Singh dies at 99

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The nostalgic partition survivor with a deep bond on both sides of the border Khushwant Singh, known for his witty, fearless and acerbic writings, died at the age of 99 in New Delhi on Thursday afternoon.

The Pakistani born-Indian author, journalist and commentator died quietly at home at his leafy SujanSinghPark apartment, a landmark for old-timers of the Indian capital, in whose construction his grandfather, Sir Sujan Singh, had a big hand.

Khushwant Singh was pre-deceased by his wife Kawal and is survived by son Rahul and daughter Mala.

A recipient of Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian honour, Khushwant Singh authored some internationally renowned books like Train to Pakistan, I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale, A history of the Sikhs, The Company of Women and Delhi, and has written over 30 novels, many short stories, essays and countless commentaries.

He was close to former prime minister Indira Gandhi but then fell out with her over her imposition of press censorship during her emergency rule 1975-77. The relationship further soured after he became close to estranged daughter-in-law Maneka Gandhi, whom he mentored for some time.

In 2002, the author candidly wrote about his life, family history and his relationship with politicians in the autobiography “Truth, Love and a Little Malice”.

In 1974, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award, but he returned the award in 1984 in protest against the army siege of the GoldenTemple of the Sikhs in Amritsar.

Born in Hadali, now in Pakistan, he had, among others, served as the editor of The Illustrated Weekly of India, where his column, “With malice towards one and all”, flagged with the bulb symbol with his caricature inside, made him an iconic figure. He was also editor of The Hindustan Times and National Herald.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called Khushwant Singh a “gifted author, candid commentator and a dear friend who lived a truly creative life.”

Congress president Sonia Gandhi went to Khushwant Singh’s residence to pay her tributes.

Condolences poured over social media following his death.

1 COMMENT

  1. It is ironic Pakistan Today & Dawn censor my comments on a regular basis, even though I have never written any thing inflammatory, or insulted any one. Today I commented about the departure of Sardar Khushwant Singh. It was deleted by both of these papers. For the first time today I sent my comments to Hindustan Times. The posting was immediate. Pakistani news media seems be run be extremely narrow minded arrogant people. I am not surprised; I made a good decision leaving Pakistan in 1976. Good bye folks. Keep your news paper well guarded. Qudus.

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