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June 28, 2020

Anil Datta was a journalist through and through

Karachi

June 28, 2020

It’s been a year since the sudden passing of Mr Anil Datta but I still find it hard to believe that he’s left us. I always addressed him as Mr Datta because he called me Mrs Saiyid formally, simply because that was his preferred form and I respected it.

Mr Datta was a totally professional journalist. He loved attending and covering literary events, especially book launches, and would go to great lengths to ensure he didn’t miss any, came on time and stayed till the end. That ensured that he didn’t miss any part of the proceedings and could cover the full programme.

His perfectionism was such that he would phone me after an event for fact-checking. He wanted to ensure that he didn’t get the spellings of names wrong or an inaccurate designation or background information.

I used to be amazed and, of course, deeply impressed by his meticulous and methodical way of working. And he did all this with the utmost courtesy and consideration. Mr Datta’s way of working can be an excellent role model for young journalists. He was a journalist through and through, and nobody could challenge the quality and accuracy of his work.

His decency and avoidance of sensationalism, and his calm, polite and unflappable demeanour made anyone who came across him hold him in great esteem and respect. His exceptional writing abilities and integrity encapsulate the essence of Mr Datta’s excellence as a journalist.

He never missed any of my literature festivals, and I would see him there observing, moving around, interviewing speakers, and quietly and efficiently doing his job. His accounts published in The News the next day were the epitome of quality journalism.

Mr Datta lived alone in Karachi but loved visiting his siblings who were settled in the US. I often asked him if he considered migrating to the US to be with his siblings, and his reply was that he loved going there on holidays but his home and work were here.

Goodbye, Mr Datta. You are sorely and sadly missed. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

The writer — Ameena Saiyid OBE, SI — is the managing director of Lightstone Publishers