No controversy over Humayun Ahmed, please: Fakhrul, Mahfuz Anam

 

Urging all not to create any controversy over Humayun Ahmed, BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Saturday said the legendary writer was an asset of the country and none should do anything which will defame him.

“Humayun gave Bangla literature a different identity. With his unique writings and creation, he brought Bangla literature close to the people,” he said while addressing a commemorating discussion at a city hotel.

Jasas, cultural wing of the main opposition party, organised the programme.

The BNP leader said recently a case has been filed in Chittagong over the death, which was so unfortunate. “Everyone should refrain from such activities. None should defame writer’s personal life.”

Mirza Fakhrul said Humayun Ahmed inspired the young generation to read books and country’s publication industry got life back due to his writings. “Humayun won the hearts of millions of Bengali speaking people and he will always remain in readers’ hearts. None will be able to harm his life and property.”

The noted litterateur and filmmaker died at a New York hospital on July 19 while undergoing treatment. Later the celebrated writer buried at Nuhash Palli at Gazipur.

On Thursday a lawyer filed a case with a Chittagong court blaming Humayun’s wife Meher Afroz Shaon and an owner of a publishing house for his death.

 

An Appeal to Media Leaders

An advocate, Nazrul Islam, filed a case in a Chittagong court, accusing the wife of Humayun Ahmed, Meher Afroz Shaon, and one Mazharul Islam, owner of publishing house Anya Prokash Ltd, for “killing the littérateur (Humayun Ahmed) in a planned way”. The basis of his case was reports of some newspapers (none of them mainstream), that tried to create sensation surrounding the famous writer’s death.

Just when the nation was recovering from mourning the loss of its most popular novelist and one who has been honoured by people from all walks of life, we have this despicable example of trying to malign the family of our revered writer. It is beyond our understanding how can somebody who has no personal knowledge of the events, who was in Chittagong while the tragic events occurred in far away New York, who has no way of knowing anything, and whose only source of information is a few sensation-mongering newspapers, could bring murder charge against the wife of the deceased.

Sadder still is the fact that one of our judges, who instead of dismissing the case because of its obvious lack of prima facie evidence, found, in his wisdom, enough reason to take cognizance of the case and refer it to the CID to carry out an investigation.

But as a media person, I feel saddest about the fact that most national newspapers splashed this “news” in such a big way. What is the news here? Couldn’t we use our news judgment and see that the lawyer who filed this case was doing it for personal notoriety? Couldn’t we see that there cannot be any “credible” case filed by someone sitting in Chittagong about events unfolding in New York? Did the plaintiff travel to New York to gather any facts? Did he talk with anyone who had firsthand knowledge of it? As journalists, we had a duty to question the plaintiff as to the “evidence” he had to file such a case.

According to his own claim, he filed the case basing on some newspaper reports. In fact, most of these so-called reports were comments, many of which were based on unsubstantiated remarks and some observations without attribution. And even these reports did not accuse anyone of “killing” the writer.

We, as journalists must be extremely careful about people’s reputation. By publishing this “news” and especially by giving it such coverage (which was journalistically totally unethical), we have greatly damaged the reputation of the two persons, especially his wife, whose feelings we did not care about. This lady has just lost her husband, and at that moment an unknown lawyer files a murder case against her. What can be sadder than this? Is this how we show respect to Humayun Ahmed?

We had no right to do this. Journalism is not just publishing reports of every occurrence. If it be so, then every charlatan would indulge in the most despicable of acts, hoping for a slot in our news hole. Every out-of-work lawyer would file “murder” or similar cases against every reputable person in the country, hoping to get published.

We have a great responsibility of protecting people’s reputation, honour and dignity. In this case we have failed, and I bow my head in shame.

Mahfuz Anam 
Editor and Publisher,
The Daily Star