The News colleagues’ fond memories of veteran journalist Anil Datta
The News International senior staffer Anil Datta’s colleagues remember him as an erudite and affectionate person. The veteran journalist passed away due to heart failure on Friday evening at the age of 74.
Subeditor Saba Habib said that in her eight-month period at the city desk, she found Datta to be a committed employee, true-hearted and a person with a genuine love for Western classical music.
“I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sit next to him in the aisle and learn from his life experiences. He was part of the fight for equality and empowerment of women in general as well as within the workplace. His death is a great loss to us and to the organisation.”
Another subeditor at the city desk, Bilal Ahmed, said that Datta never relied on press releases. “Despite his age and illnesses, he always attended the cultural events and seminars that he reported. His knowledge of Western classical music was astounding and so was his grip on the Bollywood songs of the 50s and 60s.”
Ahmed recalled how once he entered into a discussion with Datta on the influence of Western classical music on Bollywood and the latter immediately started naming several songs, composed by OP Nayyar, Salil Chowdhury and others, that had been inspired by the classical and folk music of Europe.
Reporter Arshad Yousafzai was in a state of shock after hearing about Datta’s passing away. “On Thursday night I met him at the Karachi Press Club, where he told me he would rejoin the office as soon as possible. But unfortunately, the next day we lost him forever. He is no more with us.”
Yousafzai said: “All we have with us are the memories of the tremendous time we spent with him under the same roof. He was a highly respected and senior member of our team. He made great contributions to our newspaper and his work cannot be forgotten. We were all humbled by his kindness and compassion for everyone around him. He will be always missed.”
To reporter Zia Ur Rehman, Datta was a great colleague and the kindest person in the newsroom. “He was a committed journalist and an honest man. He devoted his entire life to journalism in Pakistan and did not leave the country even when all of his siblings moved to the United States.”
Layout designer Muhammad Aamir Khan probably knew Datta the longest among all the staffers of The News. He never found Datta speaking loudly or misbehaving with anyone ever. “He had an extremely polite personality. Datta sahib will always remain in our hearts.”