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Zaglul Ahmed Chowdhury : A man of passion

Mir Lutful Kabir Saadi

It is hard to believe that a year has gone by since Zaglul bhai passed away. A distinguished journalist and columnist, Zaglul Ahmed Chowdhury died in a road accident in the city's Karwan Bazar area on November 29, 2014 while he was on his way to a programme on ATN. He was former Chief Editor of state-run news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS) and also an international affairs analyst.

I was closely associated with Zaglul bhai as a member of the Overseas Correspondents Association of Bangladesh (OCAB). He served in many capacities at this prestigious journalists' organisation. Zaglul bhai was among the longest serving journalists in BSS where he worked as a diplomatic correspondent, special correspondent, head of the parliamentary team, foreign editor, and in-charge of the human rights desk. He also served as Managing Director of BSS. At the time of his demise he was working with The Financial Express as Consulting Editor.

He was connected with several prominent foreign media outlets such as TIME magazine, JIJI Press of Japan, Times of India, Qatar News Agency and ABC News. He authored a number of books, including Bangladesh's Relations with India, Myanmar and Nepal: The Impact on Citizens and Development and Global Flashpoint: South Asia and Middle East.

All corners of society mourned the tragic death of Zaglul bhai. A huge number of people attended his namaze janaza held at the Banani Jame Masjid and also joined the dua mahfil held at the Gulshan Central Mosque. The cabinet adopted obituary reference on his death in its weekly meeting held at Bangladesh Secretariat with the Prime Minister in the chair. The government also suspended the operation of Mohona Hospital on Green Road in Dhaka for running without license where Zaglul bhai was taken following his accident but was not given proper treatment. The government formed a five-member committee to investigate the road crash that killed him.

The probe body headed by Mashiar Rahman, director (administration) of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, investigated the incident. The probe report suggested that reckless driving and negligence of duties by the police and doctors were responsible for the untimely death of Zaglul bhai.

The report said that the driver and helper of the bus forced him to get down at Sonargaon intersection which is not a bus stop. As soon as he put his foot on the road, the driver hit the gear abruptly. He fell and was seriously injured as a result, the report added. It further stated that on-duty traffic police requested pedestrians to take him to the hospital instead of taking him there themselves. No officials from nearby Kalabagan Police Station reached the spot on time.

The probe report pointed out that a number of onlookers took him to nearby Mohona Hospital (which has no government approval) where there were no on-duty doctors at its emergency unit. A doctor at the hospital's operation theatre wasted around thirty minutes in the name of diagnosis, though the hospital did not have the necessary treatment facilities. They eventually sent him to Comfort Hospital on Green Road with an oxygen mask, as the doctor claimed the victim was alive at 8:41pm. However, doctors at the ICU at Comfort Hospital claimed that Chowdhury was already dead when he was brought to them.

The report also came up with a 15-point recommendation to avoid similar accidents in the future. The recommendations include arranging adequate bus stops and law enforcers' strict monitoring of traffic.

Zaglul bhai's death was due to reckless acts by the driver who should be sanctioned the highest form of punishment.

Zaglul bhai was a courageous person and a resourceful writer. He used to write on current international issues and on subjects of interest to readers. He was known as an analyst on South Asian affairs. He always kept himself updated with the activities in and around South Asia and other parts of the globe. Throughout his long career in journalism, Zaglul bhai maintained impartiality in his conduct and profession. He always tried his best to adhere to the ethics of journalism, which is a quality very few possess. His death, no doubt, was a serious blow to the world of journalism. May his soul rest in eternal peace.


The writer is former acting president, Overseas Correspondents Association of Bangladesh (OCAB) and Fellow, 21st Century Trust, UK.


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