Amitabh Mattoo : RIP Rahul Jalali! The veteran journalist Rahul Jalali passed away this morning; missed and mourned by his friends and admirers. Rahul lived a nomadic existence, personally and professionally. In fact, I know little of Rahul in his later life as a mentor and teacher to young reporters or as an analyst on Kashmir.
But I remember him as a college student in Srinagar, while we were still in school. He was about 5-6 years senior to us, but we had a deep family connection and it was his wonderful parents that I saw in Rahul whenever I met him. Rahul had inherited his father’s operatic baritone voice and his mother Sumitra’s Bengali looks.
Pran Jalali was part of the leftist intellectuals who (with the Bedis et al) played a role in shaping Sheikh Abdullah’s progressive thinking that led to the Naya Kashmir manifesto. The life of a journalist in Srinagar, in those PNJ days of the 1960s and early 1970s, allowed for a studied and often languid existence.
A mid morning noisy coffee at the Residency Road coffee house (just above Kashmir bookshop); a glance at the ticker; and a few phones calls from Delhi and to contacts in Srinagar. After the story had been filed for the day, everyone would descend to LabKaul’s bar for the real political gossip and arguments. Pran Nath Jalali’s table was in that smoky tavern, where thinkers (and Sadiq & DP Dhar – separately, in the late 1960s, were their political and intellectual gurus) descended. And PN Jalali dominated the table in every sense of the word.
Sumitra was a wonderfully noisy librarian with a view on everything and like all good Bengalis got her genders mixed up, even after staying in Kashmir for 50 years. My mother would take us (my brother and me) at the beginning of each winter vacation to the Women’s College Library where we borrowed books our mother wanted us to read (Tolstoy and Dostoevsky) and the ones we read: Wodehouse and Agatha Christie. From December to March we read voraciously, and returned lazily much due to the graciousness of Sumitra Aunty.
Rahul was their only child; he stood out as a RJ on Radio Kashmir and then moved to JNU & beyond. He introduced as comperes to Yuv Vani, and was extraordinarily generous with his time at an age when one has little time for boys still not teenaged.
Kashmir went into a black hole; the gracious Pran Jalali went a few years after Sumati and Kashmir; and now Rahul has gone. He will be missed; also as a symbol of the way we were!
David Devadas : so very sad that Rahul Jalali passed away early this morning. He was a fine journalist—balanced and upright—and a humane, caring person. I had met him off and on since the early `80s at get-togethers hosted by other journalists, and had been to his place while researching my first book on Kashmir—to interview his father (who had been a close associate of Sheikh Abdullah in the 1940s).
Although we had only occasionally been in touch, Rahul truly proved to be a friend over the past few years—almost avuncular in his concern.
Having lived and worked in Kashmir for several years early in this century with very little income, I had not been to the Press Club of India for years. Since I had no fixed address for much of this time, my mail often went astray. When he was president of the Club, Rahul telephoned me one day to say the rules called for my expulsion since my basic annual membership fee had not been paid.
I rarely ever visited the Club, I said diffidently, and didn’t really feel able to afford it. I just cannot expel you, David, he said kindly, and coaxed me to remain a member. I tried to argue that I didn’t need to continue, but he coaxed and coaxed. I’m so glad he did.
Rahul’s identity as a Kashmiri mattered deeply to him, and he keenly followed my work in and on Kashmir. We would sometimes get together to discuss the situation, and share our concern about it.
He was one of the very few who understood how tough and lonely my furrow has been—so often discouraging, dispiriting. A couple of years ago, he sent a rendition of `The Boxer’ by Paul Simon and Joan Baez to my inbox on my birthday. It was one of the best gifts I have ever received—the gift of empathy.
`I am just a poor boy
Though my story’s seldom told
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocket full of mumbles, such are promises
All lies and jests …
Then I’m laying out my winter clothes
And wishing I was gone
Where the New York City winters
Aren’t bleeding me
In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev’ry glove that laid him down
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
“I am leaving, I am leaving”
But the fighter still remains’
The accompanying message said: `While you tell Kashmir’s story, perhaps your story matches that of the Boxer. Happy Birthday.’ He understood how much assault I had taken from all sides for writing and speaking truth …the punches and kicks, the muzzle of a pistol, being locked up, false cases, abuse, innuendo, calumny.
I have lost a brother, an elder, and a friend. Rest in peace, Rahul!
You were a gift. You will be missed.
Raj Wanchoo : Rahul Ji had been a qualitative outspoken journalist. I had a chance to meet him once when Mr Muzzaffar Shah (Late G M Shah’s son, ex- CM J&K) hold an important political conference at Press Club of India in Delhi. Rahul Ji was there along with many political, & intellectuals. were invited there. I saw Rahul Ji a very simple man, kurta-Pajama dressed , I squeezed myself among the VIP’s there & had a chat with him on Farooq-Rajiv accord, & he insisted that it was a “double accord” , he was a genius political journalist. God Rest His Noble Soul In Peace
IFWJ Mourns the Death of Veteran Journalist Rahul Jalali
Indian Federation of Working Journalists (IFWJ) is deeply grieved over the sad demise of a veteran journalist Rahul Jalali this morning. He was not keeping well for quite a long time. He died at a relatively young age. His writings and debates on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir were taken very seriously by the dispensations of New Delhi and Srinagar as well. His father PN Jalali was a highly respected journalist of Kashmir. However, in the fag end of his life, he had to take refuge in Delhi because of the ethnic cleansing carried out by the fanatic terrorists.
Shri Jalali was very helpful to all journalists. He was also the President of the Press Club of India, which he served in different capacities for a number of years. IFWJ stalwart C.B. Kaul remembers him very fondly and has mourned his death. Shri Jalali has been very active in voicing the journalism-related issues and always strove for maintaining the freedom of the press.
IFWJ President B.V. Mallikarjunaiah, Vice-President Hemant Tiwari and Treasurer Rinku Yadav have sent their condolences on the death of Shri Jalali and have prayed to God to provide enough strength to his family to bear the irreparable loss. IFWJ dips its banner in the memory of an amiable and scholarly veteran journalist Rahul Jalali.