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‘Typical Lucknow-ite, reporter at heart’: Tributes pour in as senior journalist Kamal Khan dies

Khan, 62, died of a heart attack at his home in Lucknow, where he was NDTV’s bureau chief. Senior politicians and fellow journalists ‘shocked and saddened’ at his death.

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New Delhi: Veteran journalist and NDTV’s Lucknow bureau chief Kamal Khan has passed away at the age of 62, after suffering a heart attack at his residence, the news channel said Friday. Tributes then began pouring in from major figures nationwide. 

“[Khan] 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,” NDTV added on its website.

Khan was a past recipient of the Ramnath Goenka Award and the Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Award for journalism.

In a conversation with ThePrint, ex-NDTV journalist and India Today National Affairs editor Rahul Shrivastava reminisced about his former colleague, calling him a “typical Lucknow-ite” and a “very helpful chap” who “remained a reporter at heart” until his last days. 

Even at 60-something, Kamal was a great storyteller, making visuals talk from the field. We have very few storytellers of that kind today,” Shrivastava said.

His words were echoed by the tributes pouring in from prominent politicians across party lines, such as Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri of the BJP, former UP CM and BSP supremo Mayawati, Delhi CM and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal and Congress’ Priyanka Gandhi.

Others in the media industry, such as Rajdeep Sardesai, Rana Ayyub and Prashant Kumar also paid tribute to the Lucknow-based journalist, expressing their sense of loss and shock.

 


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Started by freelancing on ‘hardly any salary’

Khan lost his father at a young age and was raised by his mother. He “started small” as a journalist, freelancing on “hardly any salary”, said Shrivastava, who worked with Khan at NDTV since 1999. Khan had started out as a print reporter and writer, and later learnt how to report for television.

During their time as colleagues, Khan and Shrivastava reported together on major stories in Uttar Pradesh, such as the murder of Madhumita Shukla, for which politician Amarmani Tripathi was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. 

According to Shrivastava, Khan and he were “prime witnesses” whose evidence was crucial, as “both testified” in the case.

“Kamal and I worked together during a phase where there were less fears about who knows us. It was not only about being factually correct; it was about being just. I was an English journalist, he was Hindi, but we both loved Urdu poetry and travelled for every story together,” Shrivastava said. 

Remained ‘grounded as a reporter’

Overall, Shrivastava added, Khan “did very well as a journalist”, winning prestigious awards and forming the kind of peer group that is “disappearing” in the industry.

“To be known for writing is the ultimate as a journalist; we all started from newspapers. In that era, how you wrote was more critical than your face flashing or your byline flashing,” he said.

“At NDTV, I used to say Kamal should be put in charge of young journalists trying to learn — very few people are doing that kind of work. He remained a reporter at heart, over time it catches up that you want to become an editor, but it’s difficult to remain grounded as a reporter, today you’re out in the field, tomorrow morning you’re gone,” Shrivastava said.

(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)


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