The country’s leading daily newspaper Prothom Alo has celebrated its 24th founding anniversary by organising a day-long Pathak Uthsob (Readers Festival) with much fanfare at the Bangla Academy premises.

The celebration started at 8 in the morning and continued till 6:30pm.

The inauguration of the event in the morning was followed by a session for readers to question and interact with the columnists of Prothom Alo. The readers asked their questions on subjects ranging from the liberation war to the country’s political situation.

Former adviser to a caretaker government and CAMPE executive director Rasheda K Chowdhury, writer Mohiuddin Ahmed, professor Anu Muhammad, professor Asif Nazrul, journalist Kamal Ahmed and writer Afsana Begum answered the readers.

Noted writer and Kishor Alo’s editor Anisul Hoque conducted the session.

The writers said they would speak out for truth and protest against falsehood and vice no matter what obstacles they may face. They urged all to unite against all any obstacles that may arise.

A reader Aklima Begum asked Rasheda K Chowdhury if there was a need for the separation of the judiciary from the executive. Rasheda K Chowdhury said this was essential and justice could not be lost in wilderness.

Mohiuddin Ahmed said, “Our constitution of 1972 did not separate the judiciary from the executive. Although the judiciary had been separated in a later amendment, it is now in a messy state. It depends on what the policymakers want.”

Omar Faruque, a reader from Rangpur, asked Mohiuddin Ahmed how he manages time to write such huge research books apart from writing columns regularly and what is the secret behind his popularity.

Mohiuddin Ahmed said that he used to type with one hand once but now uses both of hands while using the computer. He said he writes for the common people and that is why he writes in simple language. The writer said the love of the readers love is the best reward.

Reader Syed Mahbub Hasan asked Afsana Begum if she has any plans to write a novel on the liberation war in Mymensingh’s Sherpur district.

Afsana said she has a plan to write a novel on the liberation war. As she is from Rangpur, she might write on the history of liberation war in that area. She is now publishing an omnibus of short stories written on the liberation war.

A reader is asking a question at an event marking Prothom Alo's 24th founding anniversary at Bangla Academy premises on 4 November
Prothom Alo

Freedom fighter Mabud Joardar of Chuadanga asked Anu Mohammad if he faced any resistance against his movement to protect oil, gas and natural resources of the country and if there was any chance of deviating from their principles.

Anu Muhammad said, during movements pressure will come from many corners. They have many limitations. But as a citizen one has to stand for truth for the sake of the next generation. The wrongdoings must be protested against and worrying about the results before movements will not do. Work must go on. The result will come automatically. One cannot afford to deviate from the principles. Everyone has to unite to work for the truth.

Young readers Samia Jahan and Olivia asked Ansiul Haque, should one start writing for children during childhood? And when elders write for children, how do they understand what will appeal to them?

Anisul Haque answered, whoever writes, the first prerequisite of becoming a writer is to write. One becomes a great writer through continuous writing. And in order to become a writer one must read a lot. And about writing for children he said, elders were also once children. They know what gives them happiness. They express all the good and bad feelings beautifully through writing.

A student of Government Bangla College, Ihti Shamun, asked Kamal Ahmed, how much freedom does a journalist enjoy nowadays in Bangladesh.

Kamal Ahmed answered, journalists want to speak about a lot of things, but sometimes they cannot speak out about everything, and cannot express their opinions. Rather than expressing with straightforward words, they have to resort to indirect indications and subtlety.  One has to suppress many thoughts. But the newspapers and media always try to express the truth. For example he said, now BNP is arranging huge public gatherings. They are facing obstacles. All thoat news are being published in the newspapers and television. When things occur, they become news. But the struggle must go on with courage to have the atmosphere of free journalism.

Retired government officer Sohel Chowdhury and a young reader asked Asif Nazrul, whether he will write about the law and judiciary just like the now deceased joint editor of Prothom Alo Mizanur Rahman Khan.

Asif Nazrul said the loss of Mizanur Rahman in this regard is irreparable. There were some legal problems with writing about the judiciary. According to British law, one may face contempt of court, so while writing precaution is required. But he also said in future he will think about writing on law and judiciary apart from writing political analysis.

The second question to Asif Nazrul was, whether he faces any trouble for his statements in talk shows and write-ups. He answered it is better not to talk about the threats, but as he has conquered fear, he can write. He informed the readers this will continue. He urged everyone to stay united in favour of the truth.