As we fill our hearts with the aspiration of immersing ourselves in the first rays of the morning sun, we recall those whom we have lost in the years past. Two senior journalists of Prothom Alo, Mizanur Rahman Khan and Arun Basu, were afflicted with Covid and passed away. We lost another colleague, Abul Kalam Azad, to dengue. Our friend of long standing and regular columnist Syed Abul Maksud also passed away.

We lost our constant teacher and guide Anisuzzaman to coronavirus. We learnt so much from him. And we lost so many more valuable persons, proving what irreparable lost Covid has wrought to the nation.

We recall with deepest respect the departed souls.

With tears filling our eyes, we look ahead. A new day is dawning, rays of light appear and we will go ahead on the path of your ideals that you have left for us to follow.

Over the last two years we lost many luminaries -- National Professor Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, chairman of the Math Olympiad Committee. We lost the Chairman of our Mediastar Limited, Latifur Rahman. It was the path shown by Professor Anisuzzaman and Professor Jamilur Reza Chowdhury that we follow, the path shown to us by the intrepid entrepreneur, winner of the Oslo Business for Peace Award, Latifur Rahman. We hold up the flag of their ideals high, committing to remain honest, humble and principled. We will remain neutral and objective, independent and objective. Our pens will remain unchained. We will work with the objective of building a democratic, humanitarian country, free of discrimination and communalism, imbibed with the spirit of the liberation war.

Thank you for your trust in Prothom Alo

The report of the international media research institution Kantar, published in September 2021, states that 5 million readers read the print newspaper Prothom Alo daily. On a weekly basis, at least 10.8 million readers read the print newspaper Prothom Alo. And if Prothom Alo's online readers are added, the numbers are staggering.

And prothomalo.com is the world's most popular Bangla website. The first three most visited websites in Bangladesh are Google, YouTube and Facebook. In fourth place is prothomalo.com. Also, among all websites in the entire world, Prothom Alo ranks at 599. Prothom Alo is read by 14 million readers in over 210 countries and regions of the world. The monthly view of prothomalo.com is 230 million to 240 million. Prothom Alo's Facebook page has 17 million followers. In the media category, Prothom Alo's Facebook page ranks ninth globally and fifth in South Asia. These statistics humble us in gratitude!

Thank you readers, it is because of you we have scaled these heights. You give us courage, inspire us to work even better. Your support is our strength. Readers, you are Prothom Alo.

Overcoming all odds

In the early days of coronavirus, like everyone else, we too were in a state of shock. At one point of time, the office was closed and all work was done digitally. Working from home, the newspaper came out every day, the online portal continued relentlessly. A total of 190 members of our staff were afflicted with Covid, but nothing stopped us. Similarly, neither Covid nor cyclones like Amphan could thwart the valiant people of Bangladesh. Obstacles came along, but the people overcame all odds and pushed ahead. Perhaps they had to pause, but then surged ahead once again. There is darkness, but piercing through this darkness come bright rays of light.

Even in these days of Covid, Bangladesh's GDP exceeds even that of India. Was it just corona or natural calamities that hit? Certainly not!

On one side we are celebrating 50 years of independence, yet again delving into the details of the history of our liberation war and endeavouring to uphold the ideals of democracy, to shrug off discrimination and communalism, and on the other we are facing all sorts of obstacles, free thought and views are obstructed, and people are sent to jail for freedom of expression.

Even Rozina Islam, Prothom Alo’s senior journalist who won so many awards and accolades home and abroad, was sent to jail. There have been attacks on the temples, homes and business establishments of the minority community, valuable lives have been lost. People’s faith in the pledges of secularism and non-communalism of the liberation war has been hurt. But people have risen again.

We are gathering together again, speaking out, reaching out and drawing each other close. When Bangladesh’s journalist Rozina Islam was harassed and arrested, the conscience of the entire world, including the journalist community of Bangladesh, spoke out in protest. That gave us hope and courage. Rozina Islam received the Most Resilient Journalist award for 2021 from the Amsterdam-based organisation Free Press Unlimited.

Other than Rozina, several journalists including the editor of Prothom Alo, had to face all sorts of harassment and cases. They had to turn up in court, get bail. The cases continue. Many of our journalists outside of Dhaka have had to face all sorts of harassment too.

Amidst all this adversity, the readers have kept their trust in Prothom Alo. This has been proven by the latest national media survey report. With the readers’ support and our combined efforts, we will relentlessly move forward.

It is true that we have not been able to overcome all the hindrances in our way. But that does not mean we will give up. We will continue to speak out in both our actions and our words.

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