Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul was the chief news editor at Ekushey Television with Simon Dring. He said, “Simon Dring’s wife Fiona was working in Romania and he would go there regularly. That is where he died last Friday.”
Simon Dring was born in 1945 in England. He began work as a journalist in newspapers and television from when he was just 18 years old. He has seen 22 wars, coups and revolutions. Innumerable empathetic people from all over the world stood beside the Bengali people during the 1971 War of Liberation. They made their contribution in the battlefield, in various states of the world, in the refugee camps, in their protests and in mobilising public support. Simon Dring was among them.
In 1971, Simon Dring was working in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh for The Daily Telegraph. He received a call from his head office in London telling him that the political situation in East Pakistan had heated up. Something big was happening there, go to Dhaka, he was told.
Simon has worked for quite some time in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. He had no idea about Pakistan or East Pakistan. But on 6 March he left Cambodia and arrived in Dhaka.
Simon stayed at Hotel Intercontinental in Shahbagh of the capital city Dhaka. All foreign journalists were detained in that hotel before the Pakistan army unleashed its killing spree on midnight 25 March 1971. The army authorities told them that the situation in the city was bad and that they must remain in the hotel for security’s sake. The next morning they were taken to the airport and put on a plane. But the Pakistani authorities couldn’t find Simon Dring.
He remained hidden in the hotel at the risk of his life. When curfew was lifted on the morning of 27 March, with the help of the hotel staff he went around Dhaka University’s Iqbal Hall, Rajarbagh police barracks and various places in Old Dhaka, in a small motor van. Then we wrote the report, ‘Tanks crush revolt in Pakistan.’
The report gave a firsthand account of the first round of genocide and destruction by the Pakistan army in Dhaka. The report was published on 30 March in The Daily Telegraph. It was this report that revealed to the world the barbarity of the Pakistan forces on that day. It mobilised international support for Bangladesh’s liberation war.
Simon had to leave for London on 30 March. He then came to Kolkata in November. He would gather news on the liberation war from there and send it to The Telegraph in London. On 16 December, Victory Day, he entered Bangladesh and the capital city Dhaka through Mymensingh, riding on a tank of the allied forces.