Coronavirus has snatched away that ‘unkempt, disorderly, but true-blue journalist’, as the editor would refer to him. I can recall many a night when a report of Mizan would come from the editor’s desk at the last moment. It would be a vital bit of news, with no time to edit. And editor Mati Bhai would say, “That’s the way he works, disorderly, but the news it vital.” So many of Mizan’s reports were published in that manner, with no preparation. And that unkempt, disorderly Mizan left his family and everyone at Prothom Alo, with no time to prepare for his departure. He was only 53.
I spoke to him innumerable times over the telephone during the pandemic, always cautioning him to be careful. But his passion for the profession could not protect him from the virus. He even went to the hospital to interview an important personality who was under treatment for coronavirus.
Initially he would avoid crowded areas, but later he would go to big gatherings and events in search of a story. He may have worked for the editorial section, but that did not restrict him to just writing editorial and post-editorials.
Mizan had the fire of a reporter within him, always in search for news. And he was quick to adapt to the changes in journalism. He tried to stay ahead, learning how to tap out a report on his mobile with agility. He wanted to pick up the skills and immerse himself in mobile journalism. Mizan, that wasn’t to be!
I wasn’t acquainted with Mizan before I joined Prothom Alo. But I would know him through his writing and his presence on TV talk-shows. He wrote and spoke in detail about the nitty-gritty of law and spoke vehemently, with conviction.
He even taught law at a private university. I was amazed to learn he was self-taught in law and had no academic background in legal studies. Our discussions and debates on law were not just restricted to the newspaper office, but took place in friends’ houses and clubs. The discussions with jurists, lawyers, university teachers, politicians, businessmen, bureaucrats, would go on to the late hours of the night, but Mizan’s enthusiasm never waned. He had deep belief in the constitution of 1972, but would readily admit to its flaws. His pen was always in motion when it came to the rule of law and independence of the judiciary. It was not that he didn’t tilt towards a political belief or ideology, but he never let that affect his professional work. It wasn’t essential to have the same opinion as him.
Those who only know him as an expert on legal issues, perhaps haven’t seen him in pursuit of economic news or news pertaining to science. Before venturing out on a new area of interest, he would meet up with experts in the respective fields and spend hours, picking at their brains. Until the last moment of his report being published, he was ever putting on the last touches of added bits of information. His persistence was a rare quality. Nothing could detract him from his integrity and commitment to the profession.
Kamal Ahmed is a senior journalist.