Obituary: Ishrat Ali Siddiqui

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A Gandhian and a journalist with great professional commitment bids adieu.

By A Staff Writer

Lucknow: Veteran Urdu journalist and Gandhian Ishrat Ali Siddiqui passed away at Lucknow on January 2. He was 94. 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 andNavjiwan, both papers also run by the Congress. When Director of Information censored a newsitem, he asked the printer to take out the item and run the printing machine with a blank space. Prime Minister Mrs Gandhi inquired about the incident and kept mum when she was told that Siddiqui himself instructed the space to be left blank.
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 modernizing of Kitabat (calligraphy). Born in Hardoi in 1919, he studied at Lucknow and then migrated to Hyderabad to edit the Urdu dailies Payam and the Hindustan. His nationalist articles led to the then ruler, Nizam Osman Ali, penalizing him. 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). His book Zaban ka masa’ala and Gandhiji was published by National Book Trust. He was conferred with Padma Shri.
Siddiqui hailed from Sandela village and like a true Gandhian he only wore khadi clothes. He was active till the last days before his death. He suffered a fall and sustained fracture on December 24 at home.