Doyen of Journalism

With profound grief and sorrow, the Daily Excelsior announces the sad and sudden demise of its owner, publisher and Editor-in-Chief Shri Seh Dev Rohmetra at 74. The end came in the early hours of July 5, in AIIMS, New Delhi, where he was admitted a couple of days earlier after he developed chest pain. The end came as a result of cardiac arrest. Family members and some close relatives attending upon him in the hospital brought the dead body home. Cremation according to Hindu rites took place later in the day at Shastri Nagar crematorium.
Born in a modest family in village Mulla Chak in RS Pura tehsil, Rohmetra received his early schooling at Model Academy, Jammu, and completed higher education from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata. He took to the profession of journalism from early life. With the passage of time, his interest in journalism deepened to become a medium to raise the voice of people.
Deciding to step into the realm of regional and national print media, Shri Rohmetra launched a weekly English language newspaper The Daily Excelsior in Jammu on January 1. 1965. With its pronounced nationalistic outlook and faithfully voicing the aspirations of the people, weekly Daily Excelsior received large scale public appreciation. The mission he set forth for himself and his paper was of strengthening ties between J&K State and the rest of the country. This brought him into close contacts with a large variety of people drawn from different walks of life, politicians, administrators, scholars, intellectuals, public leaders, unionists and plebeians. He endeared himself to his friends and associates, one and all, by being honest and soft spoken. Finding that the weekly Daily Excelsior was making strong impact on its readers and the civil society in general, Shri Rohmetra was prompted to convert the weekly into daily news paper in 1977.
The Daily Excelsior soon scaled great heights to become the most popular daily with the readership. Rohmetra’s vision, understanding of political complexities, dedication to professional ethics and enviable nationalistic beliefs and viewpoints soon made Daily Excelsior the most liked and largest circulated English daily in the State, and more especially in Jammu region. The paper grew not only in the sphere of technical proficiency which includes the launching its internet editions and E-Paper of the newspaper, but also, and more importantly, in terms of content meticulously relevant to the requirements of contemporary society. Today its circulation has crossed 2.5 lakh and with that, it is heading to be one of the largest circulated English daily in Northern India.
Rohmetra’s perceptive journalistic credentials soon found recognition in the ruling circles as genuine voice of the people. Responding to the intrinsic worth of the Fourth Estate to a burgeoning democracy, the then Chairman Policy Planning Commission, late D.P. Dhar, sought his association at a time when the country had to fight the Bangladesh war. When the historic event of Shimla Summit of 1972 took place, it was Rohmetra who made copious and deeply insightful coverage of the event. In 1995, he was part of the press corpse that accompanied Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao on his official visit to Malaysia. He participated at The Hague Peace Conference where representatives from India and Pakistan had gathered to hammer out an acceptable peace formula between India and Pakistan. And in 2001, he was included in Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee’s delegation on its three-nation tour of Russian Federation, UK and the US. Rohmetra commanded great respect with the press fraternity of India. In his capacity, he rendered meritorious service in highlighting vital interests of J&K State across the intellectual community of the country.
Shri Rohmetra’s achievements in the field of professional journalism were equally matched by his managerial prowess and capability. He had a strange gift of selecting the right person for right job. The result was that he raised a team with excellent professional expertise, and endeared himself to them by understanding their urges, difficulties and work culture. Seldom does one find such a cohesive and cooperative team working in a private concern. He was exceptionally just and equitable to his workers not waiting for a second to redress their grievance if there was one. The tragic killing of Daily Excelsior lens man in a cross firing incident at the border on May 11, 2008 had left him aggrieved and he did more than what was expected to rehabilitate the bereaved family.
Shri S.D. Rohmetra had become an institution and an icon in the domain of regional journalism. He was a benefactor to scores of families associated with the Excelsior Group. He has left behind rich legacy and the workers at the Daily Excelsior, while deeply mourning the loss of the patron, are a dedicated compact group that will carry forward with sustained zeal and dedication the mission of the departed team leader. The mission that has come down to us from him can be summed up as this: (a) total emotional integration with India (b) defending national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country (d) promoting inflow of talent and industry into the State from the rest of the country (e) strengthening of communal harmony in the State and (f) providing full support to the state in fighting and defeating cross-border infiltration of terrorists.
We assure the readers that Daily Excelsior will continue to provide them its services as efficiently as we have been providing in the past. We seek their support and cooperation to run the paper as scrupulously as we have been doing. And we all salute the departed patriarch promising that we shall keep steadfast to his legacy.
— Kamal & Neeraj


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