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June 29, 2019

Veteran journalist Anil Datta passes away


June 29, 2019

Veteran journalist and senior staffer of The News International Anil Datta passed away due to heart failure on Friday evening. He was 74.

Datta had complained of shortness of breath at the Karachi Press Club and he was being taken to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) for first aid in a private car after an Aman Foundation ambulance did not turn up despite the passage of 15-20 minutes, but he died on the way.

“Is it my endgame, Bhatti Sahab?” and “Please tell Umer Sahab [The News city editor] that I won’t be able to attend office today” were the last words of the journalist before he lost his consciousness in the Ibrahim Jalees Hall of the KPC.

KPC Secretary Arman Sabir said Datta had fainted at the press club a couple of days back too and he was taken to the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, where doctors declared him fit after examination. However, his health continued to deteriorate in the following days, from which he could not recover.

Sabir explained that being a bachelor, the veteran journalist used to spend most of his time at the KPC, and on Friday evening, he complained of difficulty in breathing, after which a doctor was called to examine him.

The doctor advised his fellow journalists at the club to take him to hospital but he could not be shifted there on time as the ambulance did not turn up, the KPC secretary said.

His body was taken to the Chippa morgue near the Finance and Trade Centre on Sharea Faisal as the KPC authorities tried to contact his family members in the United States to make arrangements for his funeral.

Born on August 23, 1944, in a highly educated family of Lahore, Datta graduated from the Punjab University in 1965 and chose journalism as his career. He later shifted to Karachi where he worked for various prestigious media houses.

At the time of his death, he was associated with The News International where he had been working for more than a decade.


Various journalist bodies and rights groups expressed their condolences over the demise of Datta and paid rich tribute to him for his commitment to his profession, adds our correspondent.

The veteran journalist was known for his polite demeanour, stringent work ethics and impeccable written and spoken English. He lived a bachelor’s life and dedicated his life to the profession of journalism.

Before his association with The News, he had worked for Dawn, The Star, Business Recorder and Pakistan Gulf Economist. He was a prolific writer on art and culture.

Belonging to the Christian community, the late journalist was a committed Pakistani who refused to migrate to the United States where his brothers and other family members live, and chose to spend his life in Pakistan alone.

The Karachi Union of Journalists issued a statement to pay tribute to him, in which it said the journalist fraternity of Karachi, especially members of the Karachi Press Club where he would spend much of his time, were his family and friends.

“This is not merely proverbial but in real sense Datta Sahib’s departure is an irreparable loss for us,” said Ahmed Khan Malik, the KUJ general secretary and former KPC president. He added that the members of the KUJ were extremely sad over the demise of the veteran journalist who was their long-time associate and a gentle soul. Aajiz Jamali, the secretary of another KUJ’s faction, also expressed his sorrow over the demise of Datta, saying that the journalist fraternity would miss him forever.

Many journalists also took to Twitter to react to the sad news. “Had long association with Anil Datta since late 80s when he joined The Star. Anil was an honest, thorough professional and man of integrity,” senior journalist Mazhar Abbas tweeted.

“I have rarely seen anyone with such strong work ethic,” said The News Senior Editor Talat Aslam on Twitter.

Asad Iqbal Butt, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan vice chairman, said Datta was a committed journalist who covered protests and events about human rights with dedication.

“Karachi’s civil society and human rights activists mourn his death and consider it a loss to journalism and society,” he said as he spoke to The News.

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