Writer, historian and columnist Khushwant Singh died of cardiac arrest at his residence here on Thursday morning. He was 99.
The mortal remains of Mr. Singh were consigned to the flames later in afternoon, but not before the family donated his eyes as per his wish.
The renowned journalist’s son, Rahul, said he was perfectly fine in the morning and “had his favourite malt whisky, his first meal of the day.”
Condoling his death, President Pranab Mukherjee described Mr Singh as a “fearless intellectual.”
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described the journalist as a “gifted author, candid commentator and a dear friend who lived a truly creative life.”
He went in complete peace, says son
Well known author and journalist Khushwant Singh was perfectly fine until he died of cardiac arrest on Thrusday morning.
“He was perfectly all right except that he was complaining of some breathing trouble for the last two days and he had started sleeping a bit more of late. Today he got up at his usual time at 4 a.m. and at 7 a.m. had his favourite malt whisky, his first meal of the day. Till the end he was solving the crossword puzzle as he was very fond of it. He read newspapers as usual. His mental faculties were perfect. He went exactly the way he wanted to; in complete peace and in the presence of his close ones in the family,” son Rahul Singh said.
The renowned journalist's death was announced by his son at 12.50 p.m. His immediate family members, including his two cousin sisters, granddaughter Naina Singh, his staff of six people, including his old secretary and typist and his tailor Samiuddin were the first to reach the house on hearing the news.
Others who rushed there were his close friends and seasoned journalists Prem Shankar Jha and M.J. Akbar, painter Arpana Caur and her mother, eminent Punjabi writer Ajeet Caur.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi were among those who paid their respects at Mr. Singh's residence.
A number of media personalities and Mr. Singh's long-time associates also paid their respects. Among them were columnist Kuldip Nayar, Justice Leela Seth, author Vikram Seth, Sadia Dehlvi, Planning Commission member Syeda S. Hameed, Justice Shahbuddin Ahmad, cricketer Bishan Singh Bedi and socialite Bina Ramani.
“His death should not be mourned, it should be celebrated as he lived his life on his conditions and went with his head held high,” Mr. Bedi said.
Around 4.10 p.m., the body was taken to the crematorium where Union Ministers Salman Khurshid and Farooq Abdullah, senior BJP leader L.K. Advani, former Chief Election Commissioner M.S. Gill, jurist Soli Sorabjee, former Union Minister and journalist Arun Shourie were among those present.
(With additional reporting by Sowmiya Ashok)