New Delhi: Renowned Indian author Khushwant Singh has passed away at the age of 99. Singh is regarded among India's best-known writers and columnists.
"He was alert mentally till the very end," his son and journalist, Rahul Singh said.
"He passed away very peacefully at his residence in Sujan Singh Park in New Delhi," he said.
He led a very full life, he said, adding, he had some breathing problems.
Rahul Singh said that his father had stopped writing a few weeks back, but read the newspapers every day.
He was predeceased by his wife Kawal. He is survived by son Rahul and daughter Mala.
He will be cremated at the Lodhi crematorium in New Delhi at 4 pm Thursday.
Known for his colourful writings, sharp sense of humour and love for the good life, his writings weren't just limited to novels and short stories, Khushwant Singh's work ranged from political commentary to contemporary satire.
He was close to former prime minister Indira Gandhi but then fell out with her over her imposition of press censorship during her emergency rule 1975-77. The relationship further soured after he became close to her estranged daughter-in-law Maneka Gandhi, whom he mentored for some time.
"He was a gentle person and a great admirer of Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa. He believed in good thought and good deed. He hated hypocrisy and fundamentalism," Rahul said.
Vice President M Hamid Ansari, in a tribute, said, "Khushwant Singh had a long, prolific and illustrious literary career spanning several decades during which he wrote on subjects varying from politics to poetry to issues of social concern.
"He was particularly admired for being fearless in expressing his views in his writing and speech."
Born on February 2 in Hadali in present day Pakistan's Punjab, his noted works include ‘Train to Pakistan’, ‘I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale’ and ‘Delhi’.
Singh was also was the founder-editor of ‘Yojana’ as well as the editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India. He was a Member of Parliament from 1980 to 1986, and was conferred with the Padma Bhushan in 1974. However, he returned the same in 1984 as a mark of protest against Operation Bluestar. In 2007, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan.
His autobiography, ‘Truth, Love and a Little Malice’, was published in 2002 by Penguin Books. Singh's last book 'Khushwantnama' was published last year.