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Dhaka Tribune

KAZI SHAHID AHMED

A mentor who nurtured young journalists

Another Kazi Shahid Ahmed will never appear in the media of Bangladesh

Update : 30 Aug 2023, 01:06 AM

The call came in the evening. I learned about the departure of Kazi Shahid Ahmed. How many days, I don't know after how many days tears were coming out of my eyes. Still the montage of memories - Jigatola bus stand, our office, Kazi Shahid Ahmed is approaching in white clothes. Even though we were very young, we were getting importance from him, he listened and advised. He was even fighting at the same time. He was protective and tough at the same time.

17 September, 1993. A few days earlier, I visited Rajshahi University and wrote a report titled ‘Armed training of Shibir at Rajshahi University; gunpowder supplied by a teacher.’ The report was published as lead news. Threats were coming through the phone one after the other since the morning. We understood that the report had hit the hive, the threats would continue. In the afternoon, there was a sudden attack on the Jigatala office of Ajker Kagoj. The bombing and firing went on for several minutes. I was outside. As soon as I got off the rickshaw in front of the gate of the office, Shahiduzzaman Bhai took me straight to the attic. He warned me and told me not to get downstairs. I was sitting; I had got the job opportunity at the request of Samar Da recently—after leaving the job of a district correspondent. I was thinking that my report had brought so much trouble. And it seemed that I was done for. 

At such a time the publisher and editor Kazi Shahed Ahmed came to the office. That white dress, a stick in hand. He said - call Anjan. Badalda came, I went before him in great apprehension. His first question, 'Are you scared?' I said - 'No'.

He said: “Write more”. My courage was lifted. News Editor Reza Arefin Bhai said: “Call and get reactions from prominent personalities, do a story.” I took reactions from Shaheed Janani (mother of martyrs), Jahanara Imam, poet Shamsur Rahman, Dr Ahmed Sharif, Professor Neelima Ibrahim and submitted the story to Reza Bhai. He dragged a line over the byline ‘Our Correspondent’ and told me: “Write your name”. I obliged.

It was late, everyone was leaving. Just then, Abu Bakar Siddiqui Bhai told me that Editor Kazi Shahid Ahmed had told me to stay in the office for a few days. In the middle of the night, my mother called from Pabna. My father also spoke to me.

They said that Editor Kazi Shahid Ahmed had called Bapi (father) and said: “I am taking the boy. Don't you worry. I will not let any harm come to him.”

I was surprised as I had just been working for weeks there and already the editor was so compassionate towards me. Yes, he was Kazi Shahid Ahmed because of this compassion, to whom the media of Bangladesh will be indebted for many more years.

Then the cases started, about 20 cases by Jamaat from all over the country against Kazi Shahid Ahmed, Shahiduzzaman Bhai, cartoonist Dulal Chandra Gain. Appearance before courts in different districts. Finally we went to the High Court. Got bail. At that time, the Awami League was the opposition party. There was a storm in parliament as well. 

With so many cases against us, government advertisements were also suspended. In other words, the state itself took steps to stop Ajker Kagoj. We saw then how a daily can run based only on the power of the reader and how a publishing editor can continue paying staff without laying off anyone throughout the year. 

At a time when there were no advertisements coming, Editor Kazi Shahid Ahmed decided to increase the number of pages of the daily. Ajker Kagoj, then became the fighter who captured the spirit of the Liberation War. The best people of the country were writing for the daily. At the same time there were explosions  of reports being published one after another in our weekly Khoborer Kagoj. In the daily, late Dr M A Wazed Mia continued to write the book ‘Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Ke Niye Kichu Ghotona o Bangladesh’. In the literature page Dr Humayun Azad was writing his novel ‘Chappanno Hajar Borgomile’. Also writing were Dr Ahmed Sharif, Professor Neelima Ibrahim and many other reputed writers. In the weekly—Taslima Nasrin, Ajay Roy and KM Sobhan were writing. Jatin Sarker was writing ‘Pakistan Er Jonmo or Mrittu Dorshon. It was a burning time. From seniors to the young— Ajker Kagoj was enriched by writings from all.

At the same time I had an extraordinary experience with Kazi Shahid Ahmed. At that time, farmers were killed by police for demanding fertilizer. Those who gave us food were being killed by the bullets of the state. I asked for an assignment on my own and wrote a cover story in the weekly, 'Aashchhe Nabanna Hobe Rokto Dhowa Dhan E’. I remember, the piece was photocopied and distributed throughout the country. A day or two after the piece was printed, Editor Kazi Shahid Ahmed called me again.

He patted me on the head with incredible affection. Told Bakar Bhai: “Bakar, give Anjan a page. Let him write a column.” My regular column ‘Manush Er Manchittra’ started. It for a long time.

After that, the chariot of time traveled a long way. But the only, yes again the only real guide in my journey was the first publisher and editor of my life Kazi Shahid Ahmed. He is the refuge of my life - under whose shade I first recognized myself. Today, I can write ‘media worker’ before my name. His departure has made me lonely one more time. On the evening of August 28, I lost the shade of that tree, to which the media of Bangladesh will be indebted. There are and there will be many editors and publishers. But another Kazi Shahid Ahmed will never appear in the media of Bangladesh.

The author is a former Staff Reporter of Ajker Kagoj

Timeline: Death of Kazi Shahid Ahmed
30 Aug 2023, 00:38
A mentor who nurtured young journalists
29 Aug 2023, 18:19
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