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Rajkishore’s death sends out a wave of grief among intellectuals

In the words of Kanwal Bharti, death did not allow Rajkishore to come back healthy from the hospital. He met Rajkishore only once, but before the advent of the mobile phone, they used to correspond through letters regularly. Few must be aware that Rajkishore was the inspiration behind Om Prakash Valmiki’s 'Joothan'

Senior Hindi journalist and writer Rajkishore passed away at AIIMS, New Delhi, on 4 June 2018. He was deeply distressed by the untimely death of his only son Vivek Raj on 22 April. Rajkishore was admitted to the hospital with infection in the lungs. He leaves behind his wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, grandson and granddaughter. His death has sent a wave of grief through the Hindi journalistic and literary communities.

In his condolence message, Dalit writer and thinker Kanwal Bharti said, “Death did not allow Rajkishore to return hale and hearty from the hospital. I met Rajkishore only once, but before the advent of the mobile phone, we used to correspond regularly through letters. Few must be aware that Rajkishore was the inspiration behind Om Prakash Valmiki’s Joothan. It was at his request that I had written articles like ‘Mandir Mein Kya Rakha Hai’, ‘Hindu Hinsa’, ‘Hinsa Na Bhavati’ and ‘Ishwar Ka Uphaas’ which continue to be relevant to date. His death is a big loss for the Hindi literary and journalistic world and a personal loss to me. With teary eyes, I offer my deep respects to him.”

Rajkishore (2 January 1947 – 4 June 2018)

In Hindi journalism, Rajkishore was known for his insightful writings. Remembering his long association with Rajkishore, Om Thanvi, former editor of Jansatta and currently associated with Rajasthan Patrika, said, “Rajkishore ji is no more. The space for thoughts and discourse in Hindi journalism just became more constricted. Only some days ago, he had lost his brilliant and only son. Last month, when I met him, he was consoling his wife Vimla ji. But he must have been deeply perturbed himself. At my request, he started contributing to Rajasthan Patrika. In one of his emails he wrote, “How long can one allow pain to overwhelm oneself?” Another email followed shortly after: “I don’t feel well. The body is fatigued and the mind blank. But I cannot put off the work given by you. I am starting work on it today.

“But destiny had other plans. His lungs became infected. From Kailash Hospital, he had to be taken to AIIMS. When I went to the ICU to see him, he was unconscious. He remained so for many days. Early in the morning, his courageous daughter told me that the doctors had said that anything may happen anytime – a couple of hours or two-three days at the most. Two hours later, he was gone. I could not say anything over the phone. This is the second catastrophe that has come on the family. May god give them the strength to bear it.

“I have known him since the 1970s, when I began to dabble in journalism as an amateur in Bikaner. He was working for Ravivar in Calcutta. He used to send telegrams to me, asking me to write on this or that topic. Then, when I became in-charge of Itwari, the Sunday pullout of the Rajasthan Patrika Group of Publications, he began writing a regular column titled Parat-dar-parat for us. The column went on for many years. Rajkishore has gone, and with him, we have lost much.”

Remembering Rajkishore, Premkumar Mani wrote, “I have just got the news of Rajkishore’s death. I am deeply hurt. I can only guess how imperative it was for him to be in our midst in these times. His son’s death had shattered him. Ah, what is life? What to say? I am speechless. I can just pay tribute to him.”

Pramod Ranjan, managing editor, Forward Press, said, “The news of Rajkishore’s death came as a shock to me. On 22 April, his 40-year-old son passed away. The fortitude with which he endured this sorrow was astonishing. A condolence meeting on his son’s death was planned. He told our common friend Dr Siddharth that it should not be a condolence meeting, but a memorial gathering. Such a deep understanding of words and their implied meanings is rare today. I will ever regret that I came in touch with him so late. I pay my respectful tribute to this warrior with the pen.”

Filmmaker and journalist Avinash Das wrote, “Rajkishore was our icon in our formative years in journalism. Vani Prakashan had published a series christened Aaj Ke Prashna, edited by Rajkishore. Our friend Subodh used to tell us about his days in Ravivar. He was in Navbharat Times for a long time. Then, Vineet Jain took over the reins of the Times Group. It is said that one day Jain came to the newsroom and on seeing Rajkishore commented, ‘What is this dark-complexioned man doing here?’ From the following day onwards, Rajkishore was no longer part of Navbharat Times.

“I became friends with Rajkishore in Delhi and we became very close. He was not very enamoured of communism and we often had fierce debates. But whenever I met him, I was very impressed by the fact that he treated me as his equal. I used to moderate a website in Delhi. It was called Mohalla Live. For some time, its office was at Mata Sundari Road. One day, he met me at Vani Prakashan and came along with me to the office of Mohalla Live. That day, he proposed that we should float a political party, which I took as an emotional proposal. That day, I also dropped him off at his place, which I had visited once along with Dileep Mandal.

“One day he telephoned me and said he was worried about his daughter’s marriage. At his request, I also published an advertisement in Mohalla Live. One day, I met his son at the Press Club but when I referred to Rajkishore, his response was rather cold. His son’s death broke him. And now, his passing has shaken me from the inside. This was no age to go. My father, who is ten years older than him, is still healthy and happy. We will miss you, Rajkishore ji.”

Prof Hemlata Mahishwar, Department of Hindi, Jamia Millia Islamia, wrote that one positive voice of sanity has been silenced untimely. “Rajkishore ji, who will now raise ‘Aaj Ke Prashna?’”

Translated by Amrish Herdenia




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