Dr JS Neki, an eminent Punjabi poet and former director of Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, passed away in Delhi on Friday afternoon. He was 90.
His long-time associate and general secretary of Delhi's Punjab Sahitya Sabha, Gulzar Singh Sandhu, confirmed the news.
Besides his contribution to medical science, Dr Neki was a Sikh scholar and an eminent Punjabi poet known for metaphysical poetry. He had more than 20 books to his credit.
He remained director of the PGI from 1978 to 1981 and is remembered for giving autonomy to the super-specialty departments.
He also served as head of the department of psychiatry at Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Eminent psychiatrist and former head of psychiatry at Delhi's AIIMS and the PGI Dr NN Wig recalled Dr Neki as one of the finest psychiatrists the country had produced. He said he was one of those who laid the foundation of this discipline in India.
Sandhu said that in the Punjabi literary world he would always be remembered for his metaphysical poetry, especially for his 'Asle to Ohle Tak' (Illusion and Reality, 1955) and autobiographical, 'Koi Naon Na Jane Mera' (2000). He was also awarded the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award for his book 'Karuna Di Chuh Ton Magron' in 1979.
"He was a fine poet and a man of intellectual integrity. He wrote preface to my 35 selected poems 'Paintee' (2009) inspired by my own kind of Sikhi," said London-based Punjabi poet Amarjit Chandan. Neki always had a keen interest in religion. During his student life, he was close to Master Tara Singh and became president of the All India Sikh Students Federation. His initial zeal for the idea of a Sikh homeland receded with the rise of his professional career.
He was born at Murid village in Jhelum province of Pakistan and later lived in Quetta in Baluchistan in the present-day Pakistan. He studied at King Edward Medical College, Lahore, and Government Medical College, Amritsar, where he also worked later. He also worked at Christian Medical College, Ludhiana, for a brief time.
Former SGPC secretary condoles death
Amritsar: Former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) secretary Manjit Singh Calcutta on Friday condoled the death of Dr Neki.
In a condolence message, Calcutta said Dr Neki besides heading a prestigious institute like the PGI, was also an outstanding scholar and a writer. Such qualities are rare in an individual, he added.