ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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K G Kannabiran

I felt a sense of personal loss on hearing of the death of K G Kannabiran, the great stalwart of India’s human rights movement. I had met Kannabiran only once but his earnestness and deep compassion left a lasting impression on me. In the early 1980s when the Punjab crisis was brewing up, I spoke on the crisis at a meeting in Hyderabad organised by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties. The meeting lasted for several hours. Kannabiran and the others asked searching questions about the class, nationalist, religious, linguistic and regional dimensions of the crisis. They were interested in developing a holistic human rights perspective on the conflict. It was the best meeting I ever had on Punjab and the human rights situation there. I came away from the meeting enriched by the understanding that different regions and states of India looked at the Punjab conflict in different ways.

In Kannabiran’s death, India’s human rights movement has lost one of its tallest fi gures. In every critical moment in India’s history in the last few decades whether it was the Emergency, Naxalite movement or the Gujarat carnage, Kannabiran was in the forefront in using his legal erudition and moral authority in defending the rights of the victims of authoritarian state power. His was a life well-lived that has left a powerful legacy behind.

Pritam Singh

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