Kamal Lohani no more | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 21, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 06:01 AM, June 21, 2020

Kamal Lohani no more

Noted personality Kamal Lohani, who tested positive for Covid-19, died at a city hospital yesterday morning.

He was 86.

He was renowned for various reasons -- an Ekushey Padak winning journalist, a leading cultural activist, language movement veteran and also a noted freedom fighter.

From his early life till his last breath, he was associated with various historical and socio-cultural events of the country.

Kamal Lohani was undergoing treatment at the ICU of Sheikh Russel Gastro Liver Institute and Hospital in Mohakhali.

Lohani's daughter Urmi Lohani said her father was admitted to Health and Hope Hospital on Wednesday for kidney and lungs-related complications, and was on life support at the intensive care unit (ICU) of the hospital. He later tested positive for the highly transmissible virus.

Lohani, whose words and activism inspired millions to survive and emerge victorious against the genocide of 1971, was then shifted to Sikder Medical College in Gulshan as his condition deteriorated.

He was later taken to Sheikh Russel Gastro Liver Institute and Hospital. In mid-May, Kamal was admitted to Health and Hope hospital with kidney and lung problems.

President Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, ministers, distinguished personalities, top leaders of different political, socio-cultural, and economic organisations expressed deep shock at the demise of Kamal Lohani who played a crucial role in different socio-political and democratic movements including the 1952 Language Movement and the Liberation War.

In a message of condolence, the prime minister said Kamal Lohani's loss is akin to losing someone with a progressive mind and an extraordinary fighter of non-communal spirit.

Popularly known as Kamal Lohani, his full name was Abu Naeem Mohammad Mostafa Kamal Khan Lohani. He got involved in politics in 1952 as a final year student of Pabna District School during the Language Movement.

Kamal Lohani and his associates including the principal of Pabna Edward College were arrested in 1953 for resisting the arrival of Muslim League leaders.

At 19, he first went to jail. He was arrested again in 1954 and was released in July 1955. During the time of his imprisonment, he became an admirer of the communist ideology and remained steadfast in that ideology for the rest of his life, noted cultural activist Nasir Uddin Yousuff said.

When he was arrested in 1955, he was imprisoned in the same jail as Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Tajuddin Ahmed and others. During that time, he came in close contact with Bangabandhu and was deeply respectful of him, added Yousuff.

He, along with many others, had a strong role in celebrating Rabindranath Tagore's birth centenary in 1961.

Born in Shantala village of Ullahpara upazila in Sirajganj on June 26, 1934, Kamal Lohani grew up witnessing India's independence movement and the partition.

He got his first job as a journalist at the Daily Millat in 1955. In 1962, he joined Chhayanaut as its secretary.

Lohani was also the first president of Bangladesh Shangbadik Union. He served as the director of Bangladesh Press Institute and the director general of the Shilpakala Academy from April 2009 to April 2011. He was awarded the Ekushey Padak for journalism in 2015.

In 1954 he worked for the Jukto Front. He had a disagreement with his family and came to Dhaka with only Tk 15, taken from his uncle Tasadduk Lohani.

By this time, he also became a follower of the Marxist ideology. Kamal Lohani married his cousin Deepti Lohani in 1960. The couple have one son and two daughters.

During the Liberation War, Lohani was in charge of the news department of Swadhin Bangla Betar. On December 25, 1971, he took charge of Dhaka Betar. In 1981, when he had a disagreement with the then information minister, he left 'Dainik Barta' and joined Press Institute of Bangladesh. In 1991, he became the director general of Shilpakala Academy. In 2008, he again served as the director general of Shilpakala Academy for two years.

Kamal Lohani was buried at the family graveyard at Ullapara, said his son.

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