He launched Blitz on Feb 1, died on Feb 1-it's no coincidence

When someone who is very close to you, or occupied an important place at some time in your life, passes away, do you somehow remember the person just before the tragic news reaches you?

It happened to me this afternoon. On a cold but sunny day in Delhi, I was sitting with a senior journalist and discussing, among other things, Dr B. R. Ambedkar's strongly critical views on Islamist fanaticism and separatism. I said, "One of my most satisfying works in journalism was a series of six articles on Dr Ambedkar's harsh critique of Pakistan, which I wrote for Blitz." As I said it, I remembered Russy Karanjia, the legendary editor of Blitz, where I worked as his deputy, and a profound feeling of gratitude crossed my mind. "What a wonderful editor he was," I exclaimed to myself, "and how much freedom he gave me to express my views."

Within a few minutes, I received an SMS from a good friend and former colleague: "Mr Karanjia has passed away."

The news made me numb.

Karanjia. One of the greatest names in Indian journalism. Owner-editor of what was once the most popular weekly in India. A tabloid that did what its name suggested — a journalistic blitzkrieg, week after week, with its sensational news reports. Free, Frank and Fearless. That's how Blitz described itself, and lived up to its self-description.

Neither Karanjia nor Blitz are names that ring a bell among readers belonging to the younger generation, because the weekly folded up in the mid-1990s and Karanjia, who always liked to be in the limelight, disappeared from public view nearly a decade ago, confined to his ocean-front apartment on Marine Drive in Bombay. But there was a time — and it stretched for nearly four decades beginning with the 1940s — when young and old alike, even in the remotest parts of India, used to queue up before newspaper stalls to buy their copy of Blitz.

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