Mizan, our Mizanur Rahman Khan, would suddenly say, “Mati bhai, give me back 10 years of my life.” He said, in 1995 he had wanted to work with us at Bhorer Kagoj. He had even come to me back then. Ten years after that, in November 2005, Mizan joined Prothom Alo. And for the next 15 years he had been deeply involved in Prothom Alo’s journalism and various initiatives.
We spent long hours in discussion and debate with Mizan. We would discuss politics of the past and present, the society or even certain individuals. Hour after hour we would deliberate on topics of his writing or interviews. These discussions took place in office and at my home.
And over these 15 years Mizan became an extremely important journalist in Prothom Alo. He had become so indispensible that many things could not be done without him. In fact, in the days to come, many things will not be done because of his absence. There are many things we will not be able to do.
Mizanur Rahman was a round-the-clock journalist. He had a rare investigative mind. He had the mindset and competence to work relentlessly and to go deep into any topic. He carved himself a niche in Bangladesh’s journalistic realm as an authority on the court, the judiciary and the constitution. He even scaled the heights of politics, crime and other issues of journalistic concern. His writings had earned him extensive contacts and access to lawyers at a district level and in the Supreme Court and also to judges. This was evidence at the Supreme Court premises on Tuesday when a large number of judges and lawyers turned up at his janaza to pay their last respects.
Whether morning, afternoon or late at night, Mizan was always immersed in his work. And through his journalism he forged durable bonds of friendship with so many people at home and abroad, ranging from experts to professors and more. And Prothom Alo benefitted greatly from these multi-dimensional endeavours of Mizan.
Mizanur Rahman Khan was Prothom Alo’s joint editor. He was in the editorial section, and his basic task was to write editorials and post-editorials. But he refused to abide by such restrictions. He would take pictures while walking down the street, make videos on his way. An incredible picture of an incident near the SAARC fountain at Karwan Bazar was taken by him. It was the picture of the severed hand of college student Rajiv Hossain caught between two buses. The picture was printed on the first page of Prothom Alo on 4 April 2018.
During the coronavirus pandemic, he spent the entire time around hospitals, coming up with the report on a little girl Shuma who was victim of the ailing health system. It appeared on 19 May on Prothom Alo. Shuma was a one-month-28-day-old infant who was born with heart problems. When she developed breathing problems, she was taken to hospital. Around Tk 8000 was spent on three or four tests, but then the physicians advised she be taken to a private hospital because she needed to be kept in ICU. Shishu Hospital had no vacant ICU beds. From the afternoon of 16 May till 4:00am the next morning when the girl died, Mizan had remained with the infant and her family, and told the tale of their sufferings in his investigative report. Only Mizan was capable of such a feat. He took the photographs and video of the report too.
Even after testing positive for coronavirus, on 2 December he wrote a post-editorial from home on MP Aslamul Huq’s river encroachment. This appeared in the newspaper on 3 December. Also from home, on 4 December he wrote the editorial clarifying in detail the significance of ‘life sentence’. That appeared on 9 December. Unbelievably, even in hospital Mizan prepared a new investigative piece. He sent that to me on 6 December while he was undergoing treatment at hospital. We published that on 17 December on page 5 in Prothom Alo. It was about the failure of American intelligence in the Liberation War. Hitherto unknown facts of the Liberation War were revealed in these secret US documents.
Mizan would write profusely. He would spend even more time pondering on topics. He would talk a lot too. He would be engrossed in journalism and the newspapers every waking moment of his life. When he slept, perhaps he dreamt of news or Prothom Alo too.
Other than editorials and post editorials, he would delve into deeply investigative and analytical reporting, would take special interviews and also translate a lot of significant material. He could jot down a thousand words, one thousand five hundred words at any time. There were times when suddenly at night an analysis was required for the next morning. He would eagerly take up the task and arrive with his writing and a wide grin on his face. He enjoyed writing. He would be happy to see his writing in print. He was always in pursuit of new issues. He may have done his Honours and Masters in accounting, but journalism was his life and soul. When he was in Barishal, he would work for a daily, Dakhinanchal. Then he worked in Khabar, Banglabazar, New Nation, Manabzamin, Muktakatha, Jugantar, Samakal and many other newspapers.
Mizanur Rahman Khan was a simple and cheerful soul. He was extremely lively and courageous. And he never took a step back from displaying his friendship and care. There are so many interesting incidents about his thoughts, his works, his world of ideas, his writing. There were so many debates and discussions. The truth is, one life is not enough for a person to accomplish everything.
How he loved his work with news and newspapers! He would spend hours networking with contacts, discussing, attending TV talk-shows, writing and studying late into the night. I don’t know when he found time for his family! But I know he loved them dearly and would always want to be by their side. He had three children. His eldest son Shadman is a law student. His daughter Afsara is studying architecture. And the youngest son Anan is in school. He was so proud of them! He would bring them to us. Mizan’s wife Anzina had been unwell for long and he took her to many physicians and hospitals in Dhaka. He took her to Germany, Italy and so many places.
I spoke to Mizan’s wife and children on the night that he died. I learnt that they too would stay awake late in the night along with him. With pain in their hearts, they spoke of so many happy memories.
Mizan was always immersed in work and wanted to do something big. I have an immense interest in certain issues, such as the 1971 War of Liberation or the 1975 killing of Bangabandhu. Mizan joined me on these issues, we would discuss these. He expressed his interest in finding out more and wanted to go to the Library of Congress in Washington DC. He pestered me to no end about this and finally went to Washington DC. He went ostensibly for a month, but stayed on for two or more. He collected extensive material, documents and papers. Back in Dhaka, he began writing at length on these. He wrote on these issues for years in Prothom Alo. He was committed to writing on these issues. Almost every year he would come up with new information.
Mizan would gather all sorts of information, papers and books from various sources on Bangladesh’s Liberation War and the 15 August killing. Based on his writings, in 2013 we published ‘Markin Dalile Mujib Hatyakanda’ from Prothoma Prokashon.
This is an extremely important book on what role CIA or the Kissinger administration played in the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, when the planning for the 1975 coup was conspired, when it ended, what the US state office and CIA documents said about this, and more. This book has had 9 editions so far. He was eager to carry on with this work. He translated a book by Dr Kamal Hossain on the background of Bangladesh’s emergence and its beginnings as an independent state. The book, ‘Bangladesh: Swadhinata O Nyayer Sandhane’ was published by Prothoma in February last year.
Persons as simple and sincere as Mizanur Rahman Khan are rare. It had been a great stroke of fortune to have had a journalist like him in our lives. There are so many newspapers now, so many online news sites and portals and television channels, but how many honest journalists are there?
I remember four years ago, I had to appear in a Jhalokathi court due to a false case that had been filed against me. Jhalokathi is Mizan’s home town. After completing everything, I was setting off for Dhaka by launch. One of Mizan’s brothers came rushing up to the terminal with large tiffin carrier. Mizan had called his mother from Dhaka and she sent this tiffin carrier for me, packed with rice, fish and all sorts of food.
Whenever I had to rush for my cases to the judge courts, the High Court, he was always by my side, always keeping abreast of the developments. He rushed around to the lawyers, went to the court and stayed by me even during the case in November last year. I will never be able to forget all that.
Also, we faced the judges in many cases together. He even had to appear before the High Court bench and the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court. The senior lawyers who were with us in those times, including Kamal Hossain, Amir-ul Islam and Shahdeen Malik, all phoned and expressed their deep sorrow at Mizan’s demise. Syeda Rizwana Hasan sent a message, “This is unbearable. I cannot come to terms with this.” So many eminent persons of the country, journalists, writers, intellectuals and others have been pained by his death, have expressed their condolences.
It is time for me to leave, but Mizan, it is you who have left without a word! How can we bear this pain?
Actually, persons as simple and sincere as Mizanur Rahman Khan are rare. It had been a great stroke of fortune to have had a journalist like him in our lives. There are so many newspapers now, so many online news sites and portals and television channels, but how many honest journalists are there? Mizanur Rahman Khan had become a symbol of integrity and dedication. People of all strata had grown to love him. Even in this fractured state and society, he was loved by all because of his integrity, dedication and perseverance.
A successful newspaper, media or establishment grows through a variety of multifarious endeavours. This requires the tireless and united labour of many. That is where a person like Mizanur Rahman Khan has contribution. None of us are the same. And amid all this, there are some who stand out apart from the rest because of their work and their dedication. They receive the love of all around them. Even if they are not there, they are remembered. Prothom Alo will always remember Mizan.
We were apprehensive and concerned about his health condition for a month or so. Despite the concerted efforts of the Prothom Alo family, our physician friends and Mizan’s family, Mizan bid farewell and left us all. He was 53. He left so early, and we remain behind.
Mizan, you had said, “Give me back 10 years of my life.” Now I say again and again, Mizan, I wanted to give you 20 years, not just 10. It is time for me to leave, but Mizan, it is you who have left without a word! How can we bear this pain?