Former editor Fatma Zakaria dies at 85

A trained social worker, Fatma Zakaria worked extensively in the field of education, for which she was awarded a Padma Shri in 2006.

Fatma Zakaria, former editor and wife of late politician Rafiq Zakaria, died on Tuesday of a heart attack. She was 85.

She was hospitalised after contracting Covid-19 in Aurangabad.

Fatma began her career in journalism as Aunty Wendy, a children’s column in The Illustrated Weekly of India. When Khushwant Singh took charge of the magazine, Fatma became the assistant editor. “She was Singh’s right hand and persuaded political heavies to contribute to the paper because of her connections as Rafiq Zakaria’s wife,” journalist Bachi Karkaria said.

Fatma joined The Times of India in 1970. Film critic Khalid Mohamed described her as “a powerhouse”. “I couldn’t have been a film critic without her. She saw a spark in me even while I was a trainee,” he said. Fatma later became the editor of the Taj Magazine, a quarterly publication by the Taj group of hotels.

A trained social worker, Fatma worked extensively in the field of education, for which she was awarded a Padma Shri in 2006.

“Though she caught Covid-19, she didn’t suffer. The important thing is that she wasn’t in pain,” her stepdaughter Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, honorary director of the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, said. She recalled Fatma’s love for antiques and art, that she had a good eye and loved to design. Together with Rafiq, Fatma created a nurturing environment filled with art and literature for all their children, she added.

Fatma is survived by her children Arshad and Fareed Zakaria, and stepchildren Tasneem Zakaria Mehta and Mansoor Zakaria.

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