Manmohan Singh, Irfan Habib, Guha remember historian Datta

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 2

Tributes poured in for late historian Vishwa Nath Datta, who breathed his last on Monday, with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laying a wreath in the memory of the departed soul and leading academics mourning the loss.

Remembering Amritsar-born Datta, eminent historian Ramachandra Guha tweeted, “Prof VN Datta’s books on Bhagat Singh, Maulana Azad and the Jallianwala Bagh massacre are landmarks of historical scholarship. He was also a wonderfully generous human being. His work and example live on.”

In a heartfelt tribute, leading academic and historian Irfan Habib said, “The passing away of Prof Datta deprives the Indian community of historians of one of its recognised stalwarts. He had made events and aspects of the national movement his special field and whatever he wrote on it had the quality of definitiveness about it. To me he coined in himself all values one associates with the old Punjab — a composite culture based on Urdu as the common literary language — alongside an uncompromising attachment to modern secular values.”

Habib said Datta’s secular outlook came out clearly in everything he wrote whether on Sarmad, Jallianwalla Bagh, Azad or Iqbal.

“It was a privilege to know him and learn at his feet,” he said.

Datta’s long time colleague and historian JS Grewal remembered him fondly saying, “We have lost an eminent historian, a kind friend and a generous host. My association with Prof Datta is more than half a century old. Without yet knowing him personally, I was struck by his enthusiastic discussions in the Indian History Congress Sessions.”

Noted litterateur Ashok Vajpeyi said, “Prof Datta was not only a scholar and teacher with unusual academic rigour and a deep-rooted vision, he was also an intellectual who shared a pluralistic legacy with many others.”

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