The ashes of Gopal Das Neeraj, doyen of Hindi poetry who passed away on Thursday evening at the AIIMS Hospital in New Delhi, were immersed in Ganga at Har Ki Paidi on Tuesday noon. He died at the age of 93 after he suffered a head injury at his house in Agra. Born in Etawah district of Uttar Pradesh, Gopal Das wrote under the pen name “Neeraj”. He was awarded Padma Shri in 1991 and Padma Bhushan in 2007. He also penned many Bollywood songs and earned fame as a lyricist in both Hindi and Urdu languages.
When asked about the poet applying for mercy killing, his son who is a retired GM BHEl Milan Prabhat said, “He had lived life in full and so he could not accept the suffering in his last days. He passed away just a day after he was admitted at AIIMS.” Speaking about his premonition of death, Milan said, “In April when he came to Gurugram from Aligarh the entire family met him. This was the last time we met him,” he said, adding that he had given his blessing on all, his great grandsons, grandsons and all the members of his family. “When my grandson asked him about celebrating his birthday in January next he said that he would not live that long. Strong in his premonition of death, he himself came to meet the family,” he said.
Rajeev Bhatnagar, a retired AGM from BHEl, said, “We had personal connection with Gopal Dass ji through our senior colleague in BHEl, Milan Prabhat. We met him several times. He was an excellent guardian. He guided us through his wisdom.” He further said, “He would be remembered for his immortal songs like ‘Karvaan guzar gaya, gubar dekhte rahe,’ from the film Prem Pujari.” He also mentioned another song- ‘Shokhiyon mein ghola jaye thoda sa shabab’ which showed his power of lending Hindi songs with a touch of Urdu poetry.
Speaking about his connection to Haridwar and Ganga, Milan said that his father used to come here often when he was building his home in Haridwar. “He used to bring mangoes for us from Aligarh and Agra whenever he visited. He was himself fond of mangoes,” he recalled.