Remembering A.Z.M. Enayetullah Khan | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, November 11, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, November 11, 2009

Remembering A.Z.M. Enayetullah Khan


Enayetullah KhanPhoto: STAR

MY father used to subscribe to the Pakistan Observer and the weekly Holiday. It was on his insistence that I started reading newspapers in my school days, and developed a passion for the Holiday and the writings of Enayetullah Khan. I wanted to meet him some day and pursue a career in journalism.
It was my nephew Riad Hassan who informed me about the demise of Enayetullah Khan. I was aware of Mr. Khan's illness and his treatment in Canada, but the news of his demise came to me as a bolt from the blue and I was deeply saddened. The next day I was overwhelmed to read the comment of The Daily Star Editor Mr. Mahfuz Anam, who described Enayetullah Khan as an "icon" of journalism and said: "He was by far the best among us." In the mid-1970s, a foreign journal described Mr. Enyayetullah Khan as "one of the best political writers in South-East Asia."
All through his life, Mr. Enayetullah Khan had been committed to the ethics, ideals and practices of objective journalism, and pursued it with extraordinary courage and honesty. He did not hesitate to write the truth. He was one of the pioneers in English journalism in the country. Writing to him was a passion and not merely a profession. He could produce a masterpiece write-up in no time. Over time, he had become an idol in the domain of journalism. In fact, Mr. Enayetullah Khan and English journalism in Bangladesh had become synonymous.
Mr. Enayetullah was a patriot, broad-minded and magnanimous. He was, above all, a nationalist who loved his country and the people. He never compromised with secular democratic principles. He was bold against any kind of religious fundamentalism in politics.
He used to be the centre of attraction in social gatherings, and the invitees used to gather around him to hear his views on national and international issues. People used to be impressed by his personality, knowledge, and way of talking.
Although Mr. Enayetullah had political and ideological differences with many, they, after his death, rose above all the differences to give him the respect and love that he had earned and deserved. He will live on in the hearts of his readers, associates and admirers. I pray that the Holiday and the New Age survive forever to keep his memories alive and as reminders of his contributions to the country, the people and the journalism.
Three years ago this month Mintu Bhai, as he was popularly known, passed away. To pay my tribute to him, I would like to share a memory.
It was in 1976, about a week ahead of the historic Farakka Long March. I was then the Rajshahi University correspondent of Bangladesh Times and President of the Rajshahi University Journalists' Association. I phoned Mintu Bhai, then editor of Bangladesh Times, to know whether he would come to Rajshahi on the occasion of the Farakka Long March. He told me he would arrive at Rajshahi at least a couple of days before the march.
Mintu Bhai, accompanied by Mr. Anwar Hossain Monju, editor of the Ittefaq, arrived at the Rajshahi Circuit House in the afternoon of the appointed day. Without taking any food or rest after such a long drive, Mintu Bhai told me: "Now I would like to call on Maulana Shaheb (Malana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani) and then visit the marchers wherever they have gathered to take part in the historic Farakka Long March. I want you to lead me."
After meeting Maulana Shaheb, we visited the places where the excited and enthusiastic marchers from all over the country had gathered. Mintu Bhai talked to the marchers and enquired about their feelings and sentiments in respect of the ensuing march. I could sense the highest degree of patriotism of Mintu Bhai.
The Bangladesh Times team was the biggest among the local and foreign media teams to cover the long march. Apparently, this was because of the importance that Mintu Bhai, as the editor, had attached to the Farakka Long March -- a historic event that drew international attention.
As planned by Mintu Bhai, the Bangladesh Times team left Rajshahi next morning for a visit to the Bangladesh-India border areas. The next day's edition of the Bangladesh Times carried on the front page an exclusive news item titled "India amasses troops along border," the envy of all other local and foreign media representatives who had gathered at Rajshahi to cover the Long March, but apparently did not conceive the idea of printing such a news item.
Though Mintu Bhai was the editor of the Bangladesh Times, his feelings and magnanimity were not limited to the Times staffers only. In fact, he had strong feelings and sentiments for the journalist community as a whole. This was duly demonstrated when, learning that no transport was available for the Dainik Bangla staffers, Mintu Bhai urged me to let them share the jeep earmarked for the Times team.
Mintu Bhai and the Times team had covered the march and returned to Rajshahi Circuit House in the evening. After having a cup of tea, Mintu Bhai told me: "Shahed, go to Atiq (Atiqul Alam of BBC) and tell him that I have requested him to give me his typewriter." I complied with his request and so did Mr. Atiqul Alam. After finishing with the typewriter, Mr. Atiq offered it to Mintu Bhai, who told me: "You people write your stories and come back to me before you go to the telegram office to file them."
Next morning, I bought several copies of the Times and gave a copy to Mintu Bhai. While going through his write-up, Mintu Bhai occasionally uttered "uooh" which, I was later told by him, was to express his annoyance for replacement of words in his write-up. The Bangladesh Times Dhaka office used the wrong words apparently because of typing (telegraphic) errors. What amazed me was his sharp memory, remembering the words he had used in his write-up.
When I read Mintu Bhai's write-up titled "Palassey to signal victory this time," I was overwhelmed to discover the depth of his knowledge, his ability to conceive ideas as well as his flair in writing. I wondered how, in about an hour and a half, he could conceive ideas and the context and produce the masterpiece write-up, which would have taken some writers hours or even days to write. I would like to retain this image of him as long as I live -- a brilliant Mintu Bhai producing a masterpiece write-up in no time.
Mintu Bhai had been true to his words "The Holiday. Because life isn't," which appear on the front page of the Holiday. In reality, he did not have a holiday; he kept on writing even from his sick-bed in Canada.
Mintu Bhai, writing about you has been a great honour for me. May your soul rest in peace.

Md. Shaheduzzaman is General Manager, IRAM Motor Co. Ltd.

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