Tofazzal Hossain Manik Mia, an icon of journalism in Bangladesh, left this mortal world after having a sudden heart attack on this day (June 1) in 1969 at the age of just 58 while he was on a professional trip to Rawalpindi. The late journalist is a relentless fighter for the cause of Bengali nationalism and founder editor of the Daily Ittefaq. He is also the founder of The New Nation, the oldest English daily in Bangladesh.
Under his pen name Musafir, which was his most popular identity, Manik Mia wrote his columns. No other column in the history of Bangladesh to this day had been so political for guiding politics and political leadership. As a disciple of Mr Shahid Suhrawardy, the founder of Awami League, he dedicated himself as the most powerful columnist to build Awami League as an intellectual party for democratic politics. With the death of both of them the party changed altogether under machination of leftist politics. It is only natural that in changed Awami League, names of Suhrawardy or Manik Mia are of not of any value. Awami League is now a revolutionary authoritarian party. The journalists today have become party activists like in revolutionary politics. Though they still talk about freedom of the press, they themselves do not practice free journalism. Manik Mia relinquished founding membership of Awami League only to be free as a journalist.
Although he had no political ambition for post or position, Manik Mia suffered imprisonment several times. The last time the military dictator Gen Ayub Khan kept him in jail to suffer for three years. Most of those who as thinkers and political workers organised Awami league as the most popular democratic party are not alive any more. This party formed united front to rout the undemocratic politics of Muslim League in 1954 by election victory and not by muscle power of students.
It is not important to discuss or praise Manik Mia when journalists are mostly party activists of undemocratic party politics and when demanding press freedom is a contraction of the term. But journalism will continue to be a noble profession in the world and Manik Mia will be remembered for his brave and selfless journalism by those who aspire to be true journalists for their own honour and dignity in the cause of serving their people. They will be the voice of the people and not party-activists. The present day journalists ought to follow the footsteps of Manik Mia who was a doyen of journalism in Bangladesh.