NDTV's Kamal Khan Dies of Heart Attack, Leaving Behind an Illustrious Legacy in Journalism

Even when a large section of media crawled in front of the ruling BJP regime, Kamal Khan was a breath of fresh air who never surrendered his journalistic integrity.

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Lucknow: Award-winning journalist Kamal Khan on Friday morning died of a heart attack at his home in Lucknow. Khan, who’s known for his outstanding reportage of Uttar Pradesh politics, was with NDTV for over three decades.

“As a news anchor Kamal was the picture of poise and expertise, and his language was famous for its trademark elegance,” NDTV said.

“He will be remembered as a legendary reporter whose work stood out for its perceptiveness and integrity, and the way in which he delivered hard truths with poetic dexterity.”

Khan worked till Thursday when he appeared on NDTV Prime to analyse the impact of Congress’s decision to field 40% women candidates in the upcoming polls. In the show, he spoke about how the Congress has made a good start but apart from representing women in the electoral fray, political parties should sensitise people against the patriarchal structure. He gave an example of his own house help who always served his dinner first before his wife and never saw a problem with that.

Some of his reports on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Ayodhya movement by the Sangh parivar are still seen for his lucid presentation and poetic criticism of the majoritarian agenda. He shared his own experiences of how Ram and Krishna were celebrated in his Muslim household, and analysed how the Sangh intended to make a dent in the multicultural Ganga-Jamuni culture, the bedrock of UP’s society.

His upbringing in the Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb reflected in his felicity in the Urdu and Hindi language, and enviable skill to impromptu quote great poets of India, each of those verses carrying a much deeper meaning than it sounded.

Even when a large section of media crawled in front of the ruling BJP regime, and feared objectively reporting an event or an incident, Kamal Khan was a breath of fresh air who never surrendered his journalistic integrity. He critiqued the government of the day in his own style, through measured language, analytical rigour, and above all, factual sanctity. His sophistication in reporting was appreciated by one and all, including those in power who he critiqued.

In the last few years, most of his friends say that even while his reports carried almost an obsessive sense of objectivity, his sadness about the state and national politics degrading to extremely low levels of religious polarisation came out often in personal interactions. Yet, he remained a true lakhnawi until the end, as he strived to preserve its culture and history. Above all, he showed all of us that one can become an example of decency in public life without showing it off at every juncture.

The respect he commanded was evident when almost everyone important in UP politics, including BJP state president Swatantra Dev Singh and Samajwadi Party ally Om Prakash Rajbhar, immediately postponed their plans to pay their last tribute to him on Friday at his Butler Colony residence in Lucknow. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra also visited his house.

From top-level officials and university professors to regional stringers and political workers, several people lined up at his home on Friday morning, almost in a state of shock and deep grief because of his sudden demise.

Almost everyone there spoke about his humility, self-effacing personality, and eagerness to help those in need.

Also read: Why Journalist Kamal Khan’s Passing Feels Like a Deep Personal Loss

Tributes pour in

Many journalists and politicians also mourned Khan’s death.

Veteran journalist Ravish Kumar wrote on Twitter, “There will be no other Kamal Khan, India’s journalism has become deserted today. That Lucknow – whose voice used to ring with the words of Kamal Khan – became empty today. The NDTV family is sad today. Goodbye Kamal sir.”

A statement from the UP chief minister’s office said, “Yogi Adityanathji has condoled the death of senior journalist Kamal Khan. Praying for the peace of the departed soul, the Chief Minister expressed his condolences to the bereaved family members.”

“The passing of Kamal Khanji, who emerged as a serious voice of journalism, is very sad! The deep voice of his truth will always remain… My heartfelt tribute!” tweeted Samajwadi Party leader and former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav.


Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra took to Twitter to express her shock over Khan’s death. “Shocked to hear about the passing away of senior journalist Shri Kamal Khan ji. A lot of things happened during my meeting with him a few days back. He kept alive the values of truth and public interest in journalism. My deepest condolences to the family members of Shri Kamal Khan ji.”

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal also tweeted saying, “Very sad. The sudden demise of famous journalist Kamal Khan ji is a big loss for the journalism world. I pray to God to give strength to his family to bear this loss.”

In her tweet, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati expressed her condolences to Khan’s family, saying, “The news of the sudden demise of renowned and well-known TV journalist Kamal Khan associated with NDTV is very sad and irreparable loss to the journalism world. My deepest condolences to his family and all his loved ones. May nature give everyone the strength to bear this sorrow, wishing from such a nature.”