Subject: Bangladesh: Crusade of a journalist: Serajuddin

ISSN 1563-9304 | Sraban 22 1413 BS, Sunday | August 06, 2006

Crusade of a journalist: Serajuddin Hossain

Friday August 04 2006 11:38:27 AM BDT

By Saleem R. Noor, USA

My father's name is Serajuddin Hossain! He started his journalistic
career in Daily Azad in 1946 as a junior sub editor under the direct
supervision of its news editor Mr. Mohammad Modabber (Baagbaan was his
pen name)! While the India subcontinent got divided Moulana Akram
Kha's news paper Azad had to move to new capital city of a new country
for Muslims of Eastern Bengal "Dhaka" from Kolkata! But Mr. Modabber
did not come to Dhaka right away rather remained in Kolkata! Mr.
Mudabber, the veteran and famous Muslim News Editor of all time of
this sub continent, finding my father's potentiality in this trade
sent my father with his immense blessings to Dhaka to replace him as
the News Editor of Azad!

My father was the youngest News Editor of any national daily of the
time! Only at the age of 19 he got the position of News Editor like
the national daily Azad, which was competing at that time in all over
India as the Muslim's mouth piece!

In the early days of Pakistan, Muslim League politics got corrupted
and abusive and they were totally derailed from the true conception of
Pakistan movement as it was device in Sher-e-Bangla Fazlul Huque's
Lahore Resolution of 1940! So, Bengal (now Bangladesh) got the bitter
taste of Pakistan very early stage of its birth! Hossain Shaheed
Suhrawardy came in front to oppose and counter the ruling Muslim
League by giving birth of first opposition party in Pakistan history
called Jinnah Muslim League later changed the name to Awami Muslim
League and finally changed the name to make it a secular party Awami
League, which gave birth of the nation country called Bangladesh today
under the leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who was the Disciple of
Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy!

My father and Mujibur Rahman were close friends and disciples of
Suhrawardy from the early days of 40's in Kolkata student life! The
Daily Azad's owner was Moulana Akram Kha', who was the President of
Bengal Muslim League! So, Azad remained trusted to Muslim League
party, which got disapproval from Bengali people right after the
inception of Pakistan! My father was sacked from Azad on the spot by
the owner Moulana Akram Kha due to refusing to publish a concocted
news item against Muslim League opposition alliance called JUKTO

That was the time of first general Election of Pakistan (1954)!
Houque-Bhasani-Suhrawardy (Shere-e-Bangla Fazlul Houque, Moulana
Bhasani, Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy) formed an election alliance
called JUKTO FRONT against Muslim League! At the beginning the Jukto
Front were having difficulties to nominate their candidates and got
divided on that issue and one time it appeared that may be that
coalition would fall apart before the election!

If that happened only then Muslim League had the chance to triumph in
the forth coming election! The Muslim League government started all
out propaganda that JUKTO FRONT alliance was a fragile one, so, if
they were elected they would be fractured in governing and could not
govern at all! People's high hopes and expectations were really dashed
by that propaganda and people were really suspicious about the future
of the Front thus thinking that would not be an effective alternative
in forth coming election to over throw the corrupt and oppressive
Muslim League government!

In Daily Azad one day the owner and Muslim League party President
Moulana Akram Kha directly instructed one of his reporters to make up
a story highlighting that the Jukto Front coalition broke down!
Moulana Akram Kha instructed his reporter to keep that concocted news
item in News Editor's drawer by writing on the top "First Lead for
tomorrow" and signed himself; so, it's an order of the owner Moulana
to his News Editor, my father, to make a banner heading for next days'
issue! The News Editor (my father) comes to office at evening times!

My father came to the office and heard from the shift in charge that
he got an important news item in his drawer and Moulana, the owner,
instructed on it! My father got that news item and through his own
channels he knew better that the news story was totally false and it
was nothing but a trash and that was yellow journalism! Right away my
father called to the Jukto Front office at Harrington Street and
verified the rumor of collapsing the Front alliance! From Jukto Front
office my father got the different picture and that was positive for
the Front that they patched up all the differences and finalized their
candidates for the election ­ so, Jukto Front was survived!

So, as a true journalist, who gives only the importance of a news
worthy item, my father threw his owner's made up story to the waste
paper basket and himself wrote the news regarding Jukto Front's
survival and made that news a banner head lines, totally contradicting
his owner's intention, and published in the following day's paper!
Certainly the owner became out raged and sacked my father right away!

Few months later Awami League paper Ittefaq, under the steward ship of
Tofazzol Hossain Manik Mia, was looking for a full time news editor!
Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy always resided in Manik Mia's house
whenever he comes to Dhaka! At that time Suhrawardy was in Dhaka and
Manik Mia told him about his willingness to have a full time news
editor to make the paper a worthy one in the competition! Mr.
Suhrawardy, the patron of Awami League and Daily Ittefaq, some how got
the news that my father was sacked from Daily Azad few days ago due to
his coverage for Jukto Front!

Mr. Suhrawardy just told Manik Mia: "Our Seraj was sacked from Azad
and he is looking for a job then why don't you bring him here
(Ittefaq)" ­ Right away Manik Mia sent a guy to my father asked to see
him ­ Suhrawardy and Manik Mia both offered him the position for
Ittefaq News Editorship and without any hesitation my father took the
job and teamed up with Manik Mia for giving birth of a unique
journalism in world history to crusade for the emancipation and
freedom of Bengali nation and they succeeded in only 17 years through
the independence of Bangladesh from the chain of Pakistani oppressors
in 1971!! My father's joining to Ittefaq is like "Came, Saw and
Conquered (vici, vini, vidi)" the heart and mind of Bengali people in
wink of an eye through the pages of Daily Ittefaq! It is historical
fact that Awami League and its leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman got its
political birth under the pen and supervision of Manik Mia and
Serajuddin Hossain in the pages of Ittefaq! Ittefaq, Manik Mia and my
father are the inseparable and integral part of Bengali freedom
movement against Pakistani oppressors! They mould the party Awami
League and its leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and worked as the
conscience of the Bengali Nation!

My father worked as the friend-philosopher and guide to Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman! I have been working on this project to dig out this apparently
forgotten historical fact to bring that out in to lime light! To me as
Reussue ­ Voltaire inspired the French revolution through their
writings; as Benjamin Franklyn did that for USA, Manik Mia and My
father Serajuddin Hossain did that for this Bengali nation ­no doubt
about that !!!

My father caused a greatest uproar in journalistic world in early 60's
by forcing the government in cracking down to human trafficking
especially children and women! For this campaign my father was highly
praised by world media! Due to his unique crusade against the anti
social elements hundreds of children and women were saved from being
entrapping as the prey to the human traffickers! Including New York
Times, Manila Tribune and most of the news papers of the world
highlighted my father's successful campaign to save human lives from
the hands of anti-socials! The International Press Institute, the
world organization for journalist (IPI), published an special issue of
its mouth piece IPI Report (published from Zurich, Switzerland)
dedicating to my father's success as "A journalist's Crusade saves 64

At the time of massive human trafficking nowadays when our little kids
are being abducted to become a jockey of Camel in Middle East, our
women are lured to get good job and ultimately turned to prostitute in
all over the world every day and now it turns to chronic disease of
the society but no one is there to raise a finger boldly to bite the
conscience of the nation and its people to stop this nonsense! But
scores of years ago my father did that! For that achievements he was
nominated for the prestigious Magssessey Award, the first Bengali
Journalist to be nominated for!

Sitting at his news paper desk one day in early 60's my father found
out that every day in newspapers there were news of missing children
but there were no follow up whether they were really missing for the
time being and found later or being abducted by a group! My father
instructed his Chief Reporter Kh. Abu Taleb to file up all the Child
missing news! After few days in one fine morning he asked for the
compiled file containing the child missing news! He studied all the
news very closely of last few months! Coming to the conclusion that
those children were not merely missing rather abducted! On next day my
father made the head line news :"Were they really missing or
Abducted?" For the first time in our newspaper history my father
raised the issue of child abuse and abduction so boldly! Through his
writing my father opined that those children were abducted by a foul
force in the society and that was a well concerted practice of that
evil force to make business and government should come forward to
unearth that mystery!

The Ayub Khan's martial Law Government first shrugged off their
shoulder and dismissed the coverage as a ploy to sell the newspaper!
But my father was relentless! He sent his reporters to the remote
places of the Province (East Pakistan) to talk with the families,
whose children were missing! Relentlessly Ittefaq, the news paper,
raising the issue made people conscious about the social evil and by
virtue of that people got vigilant and few child abductors were
captured by street people and on people's severe out rage and beating
few of those culprits disclosed that they were a member of a group and
in business to grab children and poor women to make profit by forcing
them to become a beggar and prostitute! My father proved he was right
­ that was a well concerted effort to abduct kids and womwn for human
trafficking purpose!

People's consensus stood for Ittefaq ­ so, then people would not go to
Police station any more to report any missing news or any ill of the
society rather they stream lined to Ittefaq office and to my father to
report any social ills! Ayub's government could well read the
consequences of people's distrusts toward government ­ so, turned
around and took initiatives to get bottom of that social ill! Later in
a police and security forces' combined operation at Gaffor Gaon of
greater Mymensingh district they could unearth a bunker at the remote
place of a paddy field and found 64 ill fated children, who were
abducted and mutilated to make them beggar!

Later an International criminal gang was found, which was active all
over Pakistan and India! Interpol, the international Police
Organization came forward to root out that evil and along with
Pakistan and India's security forces they could root out that social
evils and freed hundreds of children from that captivity from
different parts of India and Pakistan! That was a great news all over
the world! My father got the appreciation from the governments and
presses of all over the world!

As a result of that crusade and campaign journalism of my father the
army government of Pakistan was forced to make child abduction as the
highest crime and the punishment was set to death penalty! The public
out cry and out rage was so loud that hurriedly government had to set
speedy trial of child abdutors and sent one child abductor to death
row to passify people's wrath! Since then for long time child
abduction and human trafficking was not visible in our society but
Alas! now no Serajuddin Hossain stature of journalist is in Bangladesh
so that we can often hear the child abduction stories and women
trafficking to middle east and other parts of the world so often!
Government action and social activism remains muted against this
heinous act! Listen Bangladesh: Only one Serajuddin Hossain is needed
to heal the social ills there!

My father got the world attention through the Indian journalist Mr.
Amitabh Chokroborty/Chowdhury, who was the Regional Chief of the
International Press Institute (IPI) at that time and he conducted a
journalist's workshop in Lahore on Investigative Reporting and the
main lecture was given by Mr. Terzy Vittacci, a renowned journalist of
the time! My father participated in that course in early 60's and took
interest on the issue of Investigative Journalism and later practiced
that in his news paper and got that immense success! My father was the
pioneer of Investigative Journalism in this sub-continent! Not yet any
one achieve the success he got in early 60's though today's journalism
has many easier tools at hand to make their job easier nowadays! Okay,
Mr. Amitabh as a Regional Chief of IPI sent all the success news of my
father's achievement in capturing an anti social gang and saving
hundreds of ill fated human being to all over the world media and thus
brought my father in lime light! He promoted my father's journalistic
career to the world! Due to working in a Bengali newspaper it was
almost impossible for my father to get that attention and catch the
eyes of the world but that job was well done by Mr. Amitabh
Chokroborty (Chowdhury?) to bring my father in lime light and
introduced him to the eyes of world journalism! My father had
developed a wonderful working relationship with Mr. Amitabh at the
time of continuing boiling enmity between Pakistan and Indian

Few years later in 1972 IPI conducted one workshop in Bonn, Germany
and among the participants was Mr. Rahat Khan, today's Acting Editor
of Daily Ittefaq! According to Mr. Khan: "It was afternoon and we all
got in the class after having the lunch but every one was feeling
tired and bored, so naturally almost drowsy! The teacher, an American
Journalist, Mr. Harold Brown (I heard that he is in the Editorial
Board of USA news paper called USA Today ­ but could not contact him
yet! He visited Bangladesh personally in 1972 January and came to our
house and expressed his sorrow for my father's pre-mature death on
behalf of IPI and later himself wrote an article in London based
Sunday Times "At Mid night Knocking at the Door" the story of my
father's abduction by Jamati Razakars and Al-Badars at the fag end of
our liberation war as narrated by my mother to Mr. Brown!) entered in
the room and finding out the neat and clean class room got upset and
left the room and came back quickly with writing pad as journalists
use and tear them all and put all over the class room and then spoke:
I need the true working atmosphere of a journalist!

Then a long pause and I was about to sleep! Mr. Brown started the
class with the following words: "Do you know Serajuddin Hossain, the
journalist of Bangladesh?" As soon as my ear grasp the words
"Serajuddin Hossain" and "Bangladesh" that was like an electric shock
to my body and I just jumped and awoke! Mr. Brown continued:
"Serajuddin Hossain was the news editor of Daily Ittefaq of the then
East Pakistan now called Bangladesh and the course I am taking to day
called "Investigative Journalism" is mostly related to Serajuddin
Hossain as he was the champion of this cause!"

Then Mr. Brown elaborately discussed about our Searj Bhai's crusade
against child abductors in 1964 in the pages of Daily Ittefaq! I was
not only representing Bangladesh there rather I was the journalist of
the paper called Ittefaq, which our Seraj Bhai glorified to the world
and on that day I was so proud of my country due to Seraj Bhai's
dedication and achievement you can well understand that! Due to the
reference of Seraj Bhai I, the representative of Bangladesh, got the
special attention in that course from teachers to participants! That
was our Seraj Bhai!" (Rahat Khan: A Tribute to Seraj Bhai)!

Saleem R. Noor writes from New York USA
E Mail : nightingale30@xxxxxxxx

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