NEW DELHI: Noted journalist Girilal Jain passed away in New Delhi early Monday. He was 71.
The end came at 3.30 am on Monday at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) where he had been admitted about a month ago and operated upon. He had been in coma since the operation. His condition deteriorated Sunday night and the end came a few hours later. He was cremated at the Nigambodh Ghat in the afternoon. The cremation was attended by several political leaders, his colleagues in the media and well-wishers.
Girilal Jain served as the Editor of the Times of India from 1978 to 1988. He later retired from active journalism but continued writing for several publications until a month ago when he fell ill seriously and had to be hospitalised.
Born in Sonepat in 1922, Girilal Jain had his early schooling there and later graduated from the Hindu College in the Capital. As a youth, he was attracted to the Independence movement and went to jail during the early days of the Quit India movement. He joined the Delhi edition of the Times of India in the mid-50s.
Girilal Jain is survived by his wife, a son and three daughters.
Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao, Vice President KR Narayanan and Information and Broadcasting Minister KP Singh Deo condoled Girilal Jain’s death, describing him as a distinguished journalist whose death had left a void.
Narayanan, in his message described Jain as a “brilliant writer and original thinker on public affairs” and “one of the great editors and journalists of independent India.” He said Jain made a “vital contribution to the understanding of political and social developments in India and in the world. His persuasive and incisive writings exercised considerable influence on public opinion as well as the Government. His scintillating presence will be missed by the intellectual, journalist and political world in India, and I will miss a dear personal friend,” he said.
The BJP also expressed deep sorrow over the passing away of Jain. Party leaders, attending a meeting on the political situation in the formerly BJP-ruled states here, observed two minutes silence as a mark of respect to the deceased, describing him as a great thinker who believed in cultural nationalism.
The meeting was attended by LK Advani, AB Vajpayee, Vijayaraje Scindia, MM Joshi, former chief ministers of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal. Advani was among those who turned up at the cremation ghat to pay his last respects.
Haryana Governor Dhanik Lal Mandal and Chief Minister Bhajan Lal also expressed grief at the death of Jain. In a condolence message, the Governor said Jain was a top ranking journalist, known for his fearlessness and plain peaking. Haryana was proud to have produced such a distinguished journalist, Mandal added.
In another message, Bhajan Lal described Jain as a “great son of Haryana” whose death had created a void in the field of journalism.
Recalling that Jain was conferred the Padma Bhushan for his significant contribution to journalism, Bhajan Lal said he would always be remembered for his incisive editorials.
Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh described Jain as “one amongst the distinguished media professionals who had always tried to uphold high traditions of journalism”.
Both Bhajan Lal and Beant Singh expressed sympathy with the bereaved family.
Ashok Kumar Jain, chairman of the Times of India group, said Jain’s “vast journalistic skills and scholarly disposition enabled him to reach the pinnacle of his profession.” He served the newspaper for close to four decades with exemplary devotion and I was personally privileged to benefit from his sharp insights into many matters. I valued his judgment and advice greatly.”
Messages have also been received from governors and journalist organisations like the Namedia Foundation and the North-East Media Forum. The consultative committee of MPs attached to the I & B Ministry also passed a condolence resolution.
Industrialist GP Birla, expressing deep shock at the death of Girilal Jain, described him as “one of the great editors of our times … a visionary among journalists … a man of great integrity, he wrote without fear and favour.”
National Union of Journalists (India) president Nitish Chakravarty and secretary general Balbir K Punj and Delhi Journalists Association President MD Gangwar and general secretary Ras Bihari, in a joint statement, described Girilal Jain as “the quintessential journalist who rose from a reporter to become the editor of one of the largest newspapers in the country by dint of his ability and dedication to the profession.”
Vishwa Bandhu Gupta, president of the All India Newspaper Editors’ Conference (AINEC), described the man as “a great, free and fair writer who served Indian journalism for a number of decades.” Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) president Harcharan Singh Josh, speaking at a condolence meeting, said “the nation has lost a distinguished journalist and we at the ICWA have lost a true philosopher and guide.” KR Singh, chairman of the Indian Foundation for PR Education and Research, in his message, described Girilal Jain as “one of the great gurus of the fraternity of communicators.”
President of the Editors’ Guild of India, KN Hari Kumar on Monday expressed grief at the passing away of renowned journalist, Girilal Jain.
In a condolence message, he said, in the demise of Jain, India has lost one of the finest journalists who embodied in himself the best of the professional traditions.
Indian Express 20 July 1993