Rahul Jalali’s Demise Mourned In Kashmir

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SRINAGAR: Journalist Rahul Jalali, who led the Press Council of India Delhi twice is no more.  He was the only son of leftist journalist-activist Pran Nath Jalali, a former PTI Bureau Chief in Srinagar, who had worked for National Conference in 1947 and was jailed with Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.

Journalist Rahul Jalali (1956-2019)

Rahul was born and brought up in Srinagar and migrated to Delhi. He was once working for the Patriot newspaper. For most of the recent years, he was making documentaries and appearing in All India Radio discussions. He was freelancing with various organisations and was a peace activist, people who knew him said.

He would routinely visit Srinagar and meet his friends. Unlike other of his colleagues, he was connected with Kashmir for most of the last 30 years. The Biscoe boy had a vast network of friends who were shocked by his demise. Reports said he was unwell for the last few days and was even hospitalised.

Born in 1956, Rahul was 63. The cremation has been planned for 5 pm on Sunday at Lodhi Road crematorium. He is survived by his daughter and wife.

Jalalis’ were basically from the old city but lived mostly in the Press Colony till the migration took place in the 1990s. Post-migration, they were living in Delhi. His death was widely mourned by the media fraternity and those close to the father-son for a long time.

On his Facebook wall, Amitabh Matoo detailed his relationship with 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 caricature of Rahul Jalali

A mid-morning noisy coffee at the Residency Road coffee house (just above Kashmir bookshop); a look 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!”

Veteran journalist Yusuf Jameel wrote: “Shocking news from Delhi for we Kashmiris particularly my tribe is our friend Rahul Jalali has passed away. A versatile journalist and someone who stood out in the crowd for being a paragon of virtue who would never compromise his reputation as an upright pen wielder. He served Press Club of India as its president during 2015-16…was the only son of veteran Kashmiri journalist (Late) Pran Nath Jalali.”

Jalali’s friend, Salim Beig, who heads the INTACH in the state wrote: “Rahul Jalali passes away in Delhi this morning. A rare sane voice in the hostile crowd of Delhi based journalists with Kashmir connection. He belonged to the by now almost extinct tribe of media persons who looked at Kashmir in the context of its people and their sufferings. RIP”

Former PDP minister, Naeem Akhter’s wrote on his FB wall: “While endorsing what is stated by Saleem Beg saheb, it’s nothing less than a personal loss to me. He would seek me out here, in Jammu or Delhi and always share his concerns around Kashmir amid the madness that has been all-pervasive for many years.

I’m fortunate to have known his parents especially PN Jalali saheb who was a class by himself. As we would spend hours in my information office together with him, RK Kak, ON Kaul, ON Ganjoo, Shyam Kaul, ML and Bansi Kak and a number of other friends from in and out of the state, Jalali saheb’s PTI office in the Lambert lane was a rendezvous too. Spent long hours with him and some times his apprentice who rose in life later.

On the death of an affectionate older friend and brother Shyam Kaul a few years back I had written a piece in the Greater Kashmir. For those who haven’t read it I’m re-plugging it to mourn my friend Rahul Jalali and the times we lived 3 decades back.”

Governor Satya Pal Malik has expressed his grief over the sad demise of the veteran journalist.  In a condolence message, Governor has conveyed his sympathy to the bereaved family and prayed for peace to the departed soul.

NC president, Dr Farooq Abdullah while expressing grief has said: “One more sane voice from the journalistic fraternity has turned silent. My sincere condolences with the family of the deceased. His death is a big loss to the journalistic community. May his soul rest in peace.”

Party vice president, Omar Abdullah added: “We have lost a veteran Kashmiri journalist in his shape. It is a huge loss for the fraternity as well as for the state itself. He shall be fondly remembered for his immense knowledge of Kashmir. I pay my tributes to his soul. May his soul rest in peace.”

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