85th birth anniversary of the eminent journalist.
It was mid-July in 1955. After his release from Pabna Central Jail, Kamal Lohani returned to Rajshahi. He had a little fight with his parents who doggedly pursued him to finish his study: “Complete your study. You can involve yourself with politics after that—we won’t say anything,” they said. But he was already a “gone case.” He was a young Marxist who dreamed of nothing but a social revolution. He borrowed 15 takas from his educationist uncle, Tasadduk Lohani, and left for Dhaka, the center of everything in his world. He accepted the challenges of his vision very early in life, which molded him into the person he was meant to be later in his long career.
This legendary journalist, who’s also an epic figure of Bangladesh’s political and cultural history, turned 85 on June 26 this year. To celebrate his birthday, his family members, friends, and well wishers formed a committee that hosted a gala event at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. People from all walks of life paid homage to him, dedicating poems to him, gifting him with books and bouquets, and showering him with love and good wishes. Lohani also expressed his deep love and gratitude for people who wished him at the auspicious event.
Speakers and his friends discussed his long struggle to establish freedom of thought in the country, as well as his illustrious career in journalism that provided many others with hope and inspiration. Throughout his six-decade-long career, Lohani also worked as a commentator, orator, anchor, and dancer.
In a riveting session, Lohani reminisced about how he had grown up in the days of World War II. As an adolescent boy, he witnessed the Bengal Famine in 1943, and almost all the watersheds of our history in later period of his life, such as the partition, the Language Movement, and subsequently, the Liberation War of Bangladesh. A serious activist and writer, he produced 12 books, including Edesh Amar Gorbo, Vasha Sankskriti O Ganomadhyam, Amader Sankskriti O Sangram, and Rajniti Muktijuddho Swadhin Bangla Betar. His activism and commentaries laid the foundation for many social movements that helped shape the country’s democratic trajectory.
Lohani also worked as chief news editor for the Sadhin Bangla Betar Kendra in 1971. In the post-war period, he served in important posts of many unions for journalists and relentlessly worked for establishing their rights and demands. He contributed greatly to the Liberation War, which, he said, still gives him hope to live and inspires him to write. He was jailed and tortured several times for his political activism during the Language Movement and the Liberation War.
The celebration saw the presence of numerous cultural personalities, including Professor Anisuzzaman, Social Welfare Minister Rashed Khan Menon, Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor, Barrister Amir-ul Islam, veteran journalist Abed Khan, CPB president Mujahidul Islam Selim, Professor Salimullah Khan, senior actor Mamunur Rashid, and magician Jewel Aich.