Mostafa Kamal Majumder
The demise of eminent journalist Gias Kamal Chowdhury has cast a pall of gloom across the country. For many colourful facets of his popular personality he was a living legend in the profession and respected by people of all sections of the society.
He had been suffering from old-age complications for several years since when he has remained confined to his home. Gias Kamal was in a Dhanmandi hospital after he fell critically ill, and breathed his last there at abut 5-30 am on Saturday.
Gias Kamal, who had been undergoing treatment for prolonged illness, including cardiac problems and diabetes, breathed his last at Anwar Khan Modern Hospital, Dhanmandi. He had been suffering also from pneumonia and other respiratory problems for fluid coagulation in the lungs. Gias Kamal left behind his wife, two daughters, one son and a host of relatives, friends and well-wishers.
A trade unionist he used to maintain contact with all journalists, senior or junior. He was most popular for his ever readiness to lend a helping hand to those who needed it at times of crises. He rendered the service for no benefit to himself, but to help people in the real sense of the term. He was a great patriot and a friend of the people.
A good newspaper reader he used to keep track of promising members of the profession and praise them for their good writings. A former President of the National Press Club, the Dhaka Union of Journalists, the Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists, and Dhaka Correspondent of the Voice of America, Bangla Service, Gias Kamal was a lovable person not only to the average people but also government ministers, political leaders, secretaries, senior military and police officers.
Gias Kamal started his career in journalism with the Dhaka Times in 1964. Later he joined the now defunct English daily Morning News. He once worked as chief reporter of official news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha. He was editor of the Bangla daily Khabarpatra. For his outstanding contribution to the journalism arena, he was awarded “Ekushey Padak” in 1992.
An orator he had the ability to keep his audience spell-bound for hours. An energetic and ever smiling Gias Kamal Chowdhury suffered a massive stroke in 1993 that caused hemorrhage in his brain. He did recover after surgery, but never got back his endless energy. Subsequently he was assigned to the Bangladesh mission in London. Since 2011 he has remained mostly bed-ridden.
He was so popular among the masses of people throughout the length and breadth of Bangladesh, for reasons mostly not known, that his name was almost synonymous with the profession of journalism in the country. Almost all members of the profession of his time did invariably face from average citizens a common question – ‘Do you know Gias Kamal Chowdhury?’
President Abdul Hamid Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Leader of the Opposition Begum Khaleda Zia, former Prime Minister and Jatiya Party leader Kazi Zafar Ahmed, journalist community leaders, political leaders, educationists, business leaders have condoled the death of Gias Kamal Chowdhury and prayed for his salvation.
A worthy man from Sharishadi village in Feni Sadar upazila, Gias Kamal Chowdhury also faced his adversaries in the profession who envied his name and fame. He was less crafty in dealing with his adversaries. At one point of time some journalists of his age-cohort had turned against him over a misunderstanding and brought him down in election for the post of President of the National Press Club. He also faced the wrath of people from the corridors of power and had to go into hiding for sometime in the early years of the last decade. Soon after, he overcame, regained his position in the hearts of all. His main weapon was his popularity, credibility and acceptance. He was in the forefront of the struggle for democracy at different junctures of Bangladesh’s history. A man of his like is to be rarely found in any society in the world.