Gita Mehta, writer and 1971 war correspondent, passes away

Her documentaries on Bangladesh, as a war correspondent in during the 1971 war, were widely appreciated

Updated - September 17, 2023 07:52 am IST

Published - September 17, 2023 12:39 am IST - BHUBANESWAR

Gita Mehta. Photo: Special Arrangement

Gita Mehta. Photo: Special Arrangement

Gita Mehta, eminent writer, journalist and elder sister of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, passed away in New Delhi on Saturday.

Mehta (80) had been ailing for quite some time. Daughter of legendary Biju Patnaik, Mehta was a war correspondent for a foreign television channel during 1971. She had extensively covered the creation of Bangladesh. Her documentary films on Bangladesh were then widely appreciated.

She has written five books — Karma Cola, Snakes and Ladders: Glimpses of Modern India, A River Sutra, Raj, and Eternal Ganesha: From Birth to Rebirth. Mehta was married to Sonny Mehta, former head of the Alfred A. Knopf publishing house, who died in 2019.

Born in 1943 to Biju and Gyan Patnaik in New Delhi, she had her education in India and University of Cambridge. As an elder sister, she was very close to Odisha CM. Mehta was said to have guided Mr. Patnaik during his initial days in politics. Political leaders across party lines expressed deep condolence over her death.

In 2019, Mehta had declined the Padma Shri bestowed on her by the Narendra Modi Government. She had then said her acceptance of the prestigious civilian award would be misconstrued just ahead of 2019 general elections.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also condoled her death, saying, “I am saddened by the passing away of noted writer Gita Mehta Ji. She was a multifaceted personality, known for her intellect and passion towards writing as well as film making. She was also passionate about nature and water conservation. My thoughts are with Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik ji and the entire family in this hour of grief.”

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