Veteran journalist, author and anti-nuclear activist Praful Bidwai dies in Amsterdam

Senior journalist and well-known columnist Praful Bidwai has died, a family friend said on Wednesday. He was 65

London: Praful Bidwai, a veteran journalist and columnist, author and anti-nuclear activist has died in the Netherlands after choking on a piece of meat while having dinner.

Delhi-based Bidwai, 65, was attending a conference in Amsterdam yesterday when he choked on a piece of meat during dinner at a restaurant in the city and died on the spot.

The Indian embassy in the Netherlands said its consular wing was assisting in the case.

"We got information this morning about the sad demise of Bidwai, who passed away at around 2130 GMT yesterday.

He was at a dinner with friends and colleagues at a restaurant when he suffocated on a piece of meat," an embassy spokesperson told PTI from The Hague.

"We are in contact with the local authorities and once the procedural work is completed by today or tomorrow, we will be able to begin the process of sending his body to India," he added.

Bidwai died in Amsterdam on Tuesday evening while eating at a cafe there, family friend Pamela Philipose told IANS. Earlier reports said he suffered cardiac arrest.

"He was sitting at a cafe there when he choked on his food and died," she said.

Bidwai was single and is survived by his two sisters.

Bidwai was a fellow at Transnational Institute at Amsterdam, an organisation of international scholar-activists. He was a regular contributor to magazines and newspapers, besides being a leading anti-nuclear activist. He also wrote a number of books, including the '1999 New Nukes: India, Pakistan and Global Nuclear Disarmament'.

His latest book on the crisis in the Indian Left was due to be released later this year.

After working as a senior editor for the 'Times of India' for a number of years, Bidwai became a freelance commentator, writing for publications in India and abroad.

He was a staunch critic of the Narendra Modi-led ruling NDA government and in an article in UK-based 'The Guardian'
earlier this year he wrote that Modi's "grandiose schemes" including large-scale urban sanitation, cleaning up the Ganges, interlinking rivers or creating 'smart cities' smacks of gimmickry and empty sloganeering".

He also wrote a regular column for 'Frontline' and 'Hindustan Times' for several years.

Born in Nagpur, Bidwai had been a Professorial Fellow at the Centre for Social Development, New Delhi, and also a Senior Fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. He had also served as a member of the Indian Council for Social Science Research, the Central Advisory Board on Education, and the National Book Trust.

Reminiscencing, Philipose said Bidwai was "a concerned human being...concerned journalist who worked for voiceless in the country" and had a "great mind".

"He understood politics of the world very well, and was a realistic journalist. His work with various media organisations speaks for itself," she said, adding that Bidwai also had a solid academic background which worked in his favour as a journalist.

One of South Asia's most widely published columnists, his articles appeared regularly in prominent publications such as The Times of India, Frontline,, The Kashmir Times, The Assam Tribune and the Lokmat Times in India, The News International in Pakistan, and The Daily Star in Bangladesh.

He also contributed to The Guardian, Le Monde Diplomatique and Il Manifesto.

Bidwai was also a founder-member of the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace, an umbrella organisation of Indian peace groups founded in 2000.

He received the Sean MacBride International Peace Prize, 2000, of International Peace Bureau, Geneva and London, one of the world's oldest peace organisations.

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