Born at Sialkot (now in Pakistan), he graduated with a law degree from Lahore before moving to India after Partition. He served as high commissioner to Britain in 1990 and was also nominated to the Rajya Sabha, reports NDTV.
Mr Nayar is survived by his wife and two sons. He will be cremated today at Lodhi crematorium in south Delhi.
In his autobiography published in 2012, he wrote about the collapse of trust between communities after the Partition and how he was forced to migrate to Delhi across the blood-stained plains of Punjab.
“From his perilous journey to a new country and to his first job as a young journalist in an Urdu daily, Nayar’s account is also the story of India,” the introduction to the book reads.
From a young journalist in Anjam, he went on to head the news agency, UNI. His syndicated column, “Between the Lines”, was appreciated for how he always stood for the freedom of the press.
He has covered several historical turns that the country has seen, from the 1971 war with Pakistan to liberate Bangladesh to the Emergency of 1975.
People tweeted condolences on hearing about the death of the senior journalist, some of them remembering the effectiveness of the journalism Mr Nayar pursued.
Historian Ramachandra Guha tweeted, “…he was a journalist who followed the dictates of his conscience rather than the lure of money or fame… Nayar was not a prose stylist, and prone to the odd conspiracy theory, yet his commitment to interfaith harmony, his professional commitment and integrity, and his courage during the Emergency absolutely shine.”
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said Mr Nayar’s contribution to journalism will be remembered. “My thoughts and prayers are with his bereaved family,” Mr Singh said.