Bangladesh: Anis Ahmed — The face of a veteran pro-people journalist and columnist

Bangladesh: Anis Ahmed — The face of a veteran pro-people journalist and columnist

Bangladesh’s media will greatly miss his presence and the important role that he played in fighting for people’s welfare in his country. We send our condolences to his family and the wider media community, who are mourning the loss of a great journalist.

by Anwar A. Khan

( July 4, 2018, Dhaka, Sri Lanka Guardian) It is easy to find litanies of the things wrong with journalism today or the treatises of rumours and reasons it is dying. This is not one of those. But a veteran journalist, Anis Ahmed, Executive Editor of the Daily Observer died at his Mohammadpur residence in the capital on Monday morning (2nd July 2018). He was 64. He was also the former Chief of Correspondent and Dhaka Bureau Chief of Reuters. The noted journalist left behind his wife, a daughter, a son, a host of relatives and well-wishers to mourn his death. I think he became a journalist to come as close as possible to the heart of the world.

His whole life — in his professional life and career —he has been about improving conditions for people in the country. His career can be summed up by a piece of advice, “Tell the truth and duck.” Ahmed was a standard bearer for courage, fairness and integrity in an industry going through seismic change. He was a mentor to so many across the industry and his professionalism was respected across the political spectrum. He was a journalist’s journalist and set an example for all around him.

He had been ill for a long time. One of the highlights in his career was his deep love for common people of the country. His each and every write-up bears testimony to the fact that he was the most pro-people journalist and columnist. He used to write to get address of the plights of people of all classes irrespective of religion. He had a great writing flair on any subject-matter especially which are related to our burning national issues. Almost every day, he has written on issues of ills of our society seeking people’s welfare.

If I look back, I still remember the day when I first met him at his workplace of The Daily Observer at Motijheel, Dhaka, he received me very cordially and took me to his chamber as his own man or friend, though we didn’t know each other personally, but he knew my name. Because before my first face-to-face meeting with him, many articles of mine were already published in The Daily Observer through the courtesy and kindness of another celebrated journalist and columnist Syed Badrul Ahsan who was then it’s Associate Editor.

Once upon a time, I sent an article to him to print it which was written in very hard English. He immediately responded to me: “Bhai, your language is very hard. The readers will not look for a dictionary to get out the meaning of your language. Please rewrite your piece in a simple and lucid language so that a good number of readers can easily read your piece and then send it to me to publish in our Daily.” I did so and the article was printed.

On several occasions, he asked me to write on our national issues more because I love to write on political matters, key political figures, prominent social workers and literary figures and so on.

He was a humanist. He wrote articles day after day to get redress on the plights of the Rohingya refugees. I praised him many times, but he reluctantly accepted my praises and asserted that a human’s prime duty is to do well for the greater welfare of human beings and he added that he has been doing the same things. Appreciation was immaterial to him. His job was to bring light rather than heat to issues of importance to our society. Anis did this with grace and a steadfast commitment to excellence. Our sorrow at his passing is a part of our profound gratitude for all that he did for us and our nation. It was an honour to know him and work with him.

Wherever and whenever he found any misdeeds in our society, he didn’t let them go un-noticed. He immediately picked up his pen and wrote against those evil acts courageously. He even didn’t bother to criticise the actions of government which were going against the people’s welfare. He raised his voice courageously to get rid of them. He was one of the country’s leading lights in journalism and a fundamental reason public media is considered a trusted window on the Bangladesh’s world by readers across the nation. His contributions to thoughtful reporting and civic discourse simply cannot be overstated.

His love of the written word inevitably drew him back to journalism (after retirement from Reuters) and he spent more than 5 decades in the domain of journalism. He was an unwavering optimist about the future of democratic Bangladesh.

He was a brilliant, incisive and analytical writer, whose significant output in the areas of people’s journalism has marked him as a major contributor to Bangladesh’s journalism over the decades. His prime write-ups are on political and social issues facing the country, have offered searing insight, and very often, suggested solutions and a way forward.

The fact that on the day of his death, at the age of only 64, Anis Bhai left contemporary issues facing the country is an indicator of how sharp and relevant he remained to the very end. We were privileged to have had him with us for so long. There is much that journalists today can learn from his examples and works. We are fortunate that he was dedicated to documenting so many of his experiences through his writings, which will prove a treasure trove for students of political thought and journalism for years to come.

He had a long and well-respected career in the print media in Bangladesh. Late Anis Ahmed is a man of action and perfectness. All he did wanted to be perfect professionally. He was a mentor to most of his colleagues practicing journalism today. Despite circumstance journalism has gone through, he was the one, who would stand by journalism and encouraged others to continue to move on, will really miss him, for their usual. Anytime any human plight is found anywhere, he was always ready. He was a great lost. He was a well-known and well-respected journalist in much of the country… He has left a big hole for the print media in the country

Bangladesh’s media will greatly miss his presence and the important role that he played in fighting for people’s welfare in his country. We send our condolences to his family and the wider media community, who are mourning the loss of a great journalist. He is one of Bangladesh’s finest journalists, admired and respected by his workmates and readers alike for his intellect, wit and absolute integrity.

His career embodies the best of journalist profession and the spirit of his unflinching pursuit of the truth, healthy skepticism of those in power and his commitment to fairness. Journalism is poorer following his death. He was known for being a stickler for accuracy, professional and ethical journalism. We are deeply saddened by death of such a veteran journalist and columnist, Anis Ahmed. All of us express our sincere condolences to his colleagues, friends and family. “The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.” –Benjamin Disraeli. May his soul rests in peace in Heaven.