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Monday, June 14, 2021

Teachers, students condole death of DU’s Political Science HoD: ‘Eminent scholar, generous, dedicated’

Prof Veena Kukreja was recovering from Covid when she died on Friday at a hospital in Rohini

Written by Aranya Shankar | New Delhi |
Updated: May 15, 2021 9:51:43 pm
Professor Veena KukrejaProfessor Veena Kukreja (Express)

Professor Veena Kukreja (64), Head of the Department of Political Science at Delhi University, died at a hospital in Rohini in the wee hours of Friday. She was on the road to recovery from Covid and had been shifted from the ICU to a general ward.

Bipin Tiwary, faculty at the Department of Political Science, said he was in constant touch with her after April 27 when she started recovering. He said Kukreja was admitted on April 24 at Saroj Hospital.

“On May 7 or 8, when I spoke to her she said was feeling good. She said — ‘Things are going fine and I think I will be out soon’. Even the doctors had told her that they will discharge her soon. But on May 14, around 2.30 am, her BP and pulse dropped and she was gone,” he said.

“She was a very noble soul with a lot of humility. She was always smiling. She would never show her stress or anger. She never had any opposition within the department,” said Tiwary.

Kukreja is survived by her elder sister aged 72 and a nephew.

She had a career lasting more than 35 years, and her work on the state and politics of Pakistan, and civil-military relations in South Asia were highly regarded.

In a note, Officiating HoD Rekha Saxena, said, “We will miss her deeply, given how she touched us with the disarming purity of her innocence that instantly connected each one of us to her in a unique way. We will always remember her silent, but strong and smiling personality, who cared for every student and colleague alike. In a long career of more than 35 years, she shone as an eminent scholar, a dedicated teacher and generous colleague with impeccable integrity and commitment to human values.”

Professor M P Singh, under whom Kukreja did her MPhil and PhD in DU, and with whom she had co-authored and co-edited several books, said her death was a shock as she walked in her ward the evening before her death. A book they had jointly written called ‘The State in South Asia’ was to be published soon.

“She was always a brilliant student; she was an MA gold medallist. Her MPhil and PhD thesis were both published. Her books on Pakistan are recommended in centres of South Asian studies in the US, Canada, elsewhere”.

In his Facebook post, Singh said Kukreja’s parents had come as Punjabi refugees to India but she had “no trace of bitterness against Pakistan, only keen understanding and an acute sense of realism”.

Tanvir Aeijaz who teaches Political Science at Ramjas College, said Kukreja “cared for” her colleagues including college teachers, “a rarity these days.

She believed in tolerance, secularism and multiculturalism, reflected both in person and in her academic works,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

Kukreja’s PhD student Shimpy Pandey was distraught to lose “the best person” she knew. “For me, she was a friend, philosopher, guide. I had a long association of 10 years when I joined for MA and not once did she get angry with me. She was the most down-to-earth, generous and humble person I ever knew,” she said.

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