New Delhi : Glowing tributes were paid to late Balraj Puri by Delhi’s civil society comprising a gathering of academics, journalists, socialists, advocates, human rights activists and others at the Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi in a meeting on 13 September.
In the beginning of the meeting, N.D.Pancholi, representing Peoples Union for Civil Liberties(PUCL), gave a brief account of the social and political activities of Balraj Puri. He said that Puri was a multi-faceted personality – social worker, journalist, scholar, a great champion of human rights and a political analyst of great repute. In his young days he participated in the ‘Quit India Movement of 1942’. Puri was founder member of the Citizens For Democracy floated by Socialist leader Jayprakash Narayan in 1974 and also of PUCL which was initially set up in October 1976 during the Emergency. Mr. Pancholi said that his work and writings will always serve as great inspiration to those involved in the human rights movement.
Rajkumar Jain, the veteran socialist, spoke about the contribution made by a committed socialist Puri to the growth and development of the socialist movement in the country of which he was one of the important pillars. Though socialist movement was broken in various factions but all the factions had no hesitation in going to him to seek his support and invite him to their conferences. The view entertained by Puri on Jammu and Kashmir question was acceptable to all the factions of the socialists.
Badri Raina, former professor of Delhi University and well known commentator on politics, culture and society, drew attention to the tremendous work done by Puri in maintaining, promoting and strengthening secular values and communal harmony in J&K. He was respected by all sections of the society in the State and his voice always had saner influence when sensitive issues erupted. In his personal life Puri was very simple and his house in Karan Nagar, Jammu, from the very beginning to the present day has been open to people from all stations and backgrounds. He never aspired for political patronage or personal favour.
Pushkar Raj, representative of Amnesty International in Australia, spoke about the love and affection bestowed upon him when as a young man he had initiated himself in the human rights work. He spoke about the amount of labour put by Puri in preparing the autonomy report as Working Chairman of the Regional Autonomy Committee set up by the J&K govt and how he immediately tendered his resignation when he found that the govt. was not sincere about it. Puri was the Director of the Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan since its inception in J&K. He was the guiding spirit behind the teaching course in Journalism started by the Bhawan wherein a brilliant corps of journalists was groomed who are at present holding very important positions in various newspaper establishment and are known for their honesty and integrity.
Salim Engineer, Secretary of the Forum For Democracy & Communal Amity, said that Puri was one of the important members of the Forum which was formed in 1993 after demolition of the Babri Masjid under the chairmanship of Shri V.M.Tarkunde. The Forum had been campaigning holding meetings in various parts of India to promote communal amity and Puri used to attend and address such conferences.
Shri Venkatesh Nayak representing Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and Shri K.G.Verma, retd. Professor from Delhi University also paid their tributes.