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Dhaka Tribune

Kazi Shahid Ahmed: Fighting war criminals, reviving ‘Joy Bangla’

  • He filed the first case against Ghulam Azam
  • Ahmed wanted to preserve the rich history of Bangladesh
Update : 29 Aug 2023, 10:56 PM

As Hussain Muhammad Ershad's military regime drew to a close, a fresh breeze swept in with the arrival of the weekly newspaper "Khoborer Kagoj."

The newly launched newspaper was dedicated to a mission: to share the narrative of Bangladesh's hard-fought freedom, the story of its independence under Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, to a global audience.

Late Kazi Shahid Ahmed, the pioneer of modern journalism, transformed Bangladesh and revitalized the spirit of "Joy Bangla" with remarkable enthusiasm.

The details of the assassination of the Father of the Nation on August 15, 1975, were unknown to the public of Bangladesh, but Kazi Shahid Ahmed played a pivotal role in unveiling this tragic event.

The late Kazi Shahid Ahmed, who passed away on Monday, did not stop his fight there. 

He filed the first case against war criminals who had opposed the Liberation War of Bangladesh. 

On December 15, 1993, Kazi Shahid Ahmed filed a case against Ghulam Azam, a Bangladeshi Islamist politician, in Jessore for killing his younger brother - Kazi Moinul Hasan. 

He bravely decided to bring forth a legal case involving crimes against humanity, driven by the determination to restore a fresh wave of enthusiasm surrounding the nation's Liberation War and its valiant freedom fighters. 

Kazi Shahid Ahmed, in his autobiography “Jiboner Shilalipi”, wrote: “One day I decided that I would file a case against war criminals myself. My case would be against Ghulam Azam. Where would I file the case and why? I would file it in Jessore because that is where my brother Kazi Moinul Hasan was killed and Ghulam Azam was responsible for that murder.”

Kazi Faridul Islam, former president of Jessore District Bar Association, said: "As far as I remember, the first demand for justice for crimes against humanity came up in his (Kazi Shahid Ahmed) daily Ajker Kagoj and it was filed in Jessore.”

He added that Barrister Amir-ul-Islam and some others were the lawyers in the case. 

“His unfortunate demise has left us without a guiding light. My heartfelt condolences go out," Islam conveyed.

Kazi Shahid meets Sheikh Hasina, Khaleda Zia

Kazi Shahid Ahmed wrote in great detail about the case against Ghulam Azam in his autobiography.

He wrote: "I first went to Sheikh Hasina with this proposal (to file a case) to get her consent. She listened to my words patiently, and at one point, tears welled up in her eyes. But she was very happy on the matter. Then I went to Khaleda Zia. I told her the whole story as well”

He wrote that Khaleda Zia, too, listened to his ordeal, and said: “It’s your right. You can file a case.”

Kazi Shahid later mentions that he visited General Nasim, who was the chief of the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) back then. 

While saluting him, General Nasim said: “Shahid bhai (brother), someone has to do the work. It should be you.”

Kazi Shahid Ahmed writes that after the meeting with General Nasim, he started preparing to sue Ghulam Azim. 

Jessore police, at that time, told Kazi Shahid that they could not find any witness for the murder of his brother. 

In this regard, Ahmed wrote in his autobiography, which was published in 2004, "I did not care about that at all. I've done what I needed to do. Two decades after that incident, Sheikh Hasina's government tried the war criminals in Bangladesh, which is still an ongoing process. The verdict has been implemented. Like every proud Bangali, it is a huge achievement for me.”

Revitalizing spirit of Joy Bangla

"I have long wished that the words 'Father of the Nation', 'Bangabandhu', and 'Bangali' will be printed regularly in the newspapers. The new generation will know about the Liberation War, about the freedom fighters. We have to make a revolution, we have to bring back the spirit of  December 16.” 

Thus were Kazi Shahid Ahmed's words when he was describing his desire to uphold Bangladesh’s rich history in his autobiography. 

In 1988, "Saptahik Khoborer Kagoj" was introduced with Naimul Islam Khan as its editor. 

Starting from 1992, Kazi Shahid Ahmed assumed the role of both editor and publisher until the newspaper ceased operations in 2007.

When the newspaper was at the peak of its readership, it came under the wrath of military ruler  Hussein Muhammad Ershad and got banned. 

However, the ban was subsequently lifted by the then chief justice Shahabuddin Ahmed.

On October 25, 1990, the cover of “Khoborer Kagoj” read: “Joy Bangla is the national slogan of Bangalis. Any change, modification, correction, or distortion of this slogan is an unspeakable national crime.”

Kazi Shahid Ahmed wrote in his autobiography: "The issue of the newspaper shook the whole nation. Even the Awami League was shaken.”

On December 1, 1991, "Tui Rajakar” or “You are a Betrayer” a famous comic strip by Ajker Kagoj, was published. It had raised its voice against Ghulam Azam when the government tried to renew his Bangladeshi citizenship. 

During that time, the government also stopped public advertisement funds for the newspaper.

Timeline: Death of Kazi Shahid Ahmed
29 Aug 2023, 18:19
29 Aug 2023, 15:26
Kazi Shahid Ahmed: Fighting war criminals, reviving ‘Joy Bangla’
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