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Ishrat Ali Siddiqui

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Lucknow: Veteran Urdu jouralist Ishrat Ali Siddiqui passed away here on 2 January at the ripe age of 94. He is survived by a son and a daughter. He had sustained bone injury last month after a fall in his Jamboorkhana residence on the Cantonment Road and was admitted to the Balrampur Hospital.

Editor of Urdu Daily Quami Awaz in the 1970s, he had opposed then prime minister Indira Gandhi on the issue of press censorship imposed during the Emergency.

His protest against censorship stood in stark contrast against the studied silence of his colleagues in National Herald and Navjiwan, which were also  run by the Congress.

The Congress government later honoured him with the Padma Sri and Indira Gandhi nominated him to the second Press Commission in 1980.

Siddiqui availed this opportunity to formulate reform proposals to improve the standard of Urdu journalism and contributed immensely to the modernising of Kitabat (calligraphy).

Born in Hardoi in 1919, he studied at Lucknow and then migrated to Hyderabad where he edited the Urdu dailies Payam and the Hindustan but his nationalist articles led to the then ruler, Nizam Osman Ali, penalising him and expelling him from his state.

Siddiqui spent many years in Sevagram with Mahatma Gandhi and was president of the UP Working Journalists Union, and the UP Press Club and was the national councillor of the Indian Federation of Working Journalists (IFWJ).

Siddiqui always championed the cause of nationalism and the Congress. He vehemently opposed Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s demand for Pakistan.

U.P. Governor B L  Joshi and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav condoled his death.

“Siddiqi will be remembered for the courage and conviction he displayed in advising Indira Gandhi against imposing Press censorship in 1975, though he was editing Indira Gandhi’s daily the Quaumi Awaz in Lucknow. His colleague editors of the National Herald and the Navjivan remained silent,” recalls veteran journalist K Vikram Rao, paying tribute to the departed soul.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 January 2014 on page no. 12

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