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Friday, 19 April 2024
ABM Musa: Pioneer of Courageous and Uncompromising Journalism

ABM Musa: Pioneer of Courageous and Uncompromising Journalism

Emran Emon

ABM Musa is a beacon of eternal inspiration to the present and future generations of journalists. ABM Musa has taken the media of the country to a unique height through objective news coverage and good journalism. He was a journalist, editor and columnist at the same time.

February 28, is the birthday of this great man. Prominent journalist and columnist ABM Musa was born on 28 February 1931 at his grandfather's house in Dharmapur village of Chhagalnaiya upazila of Feni district. His ancestral home is in Kutubpur village of Fulgazi upazila next to the same district. My home is next to the ancestral home of ABM Musa. A few days ago I went to his home for the purpose of researching about ABM Musa.

This year marks the 93th birth anniversary of ABM Musa. I am remembering his birthday with great respect. ABM Musa spent his educational life at Chittagong Government Muslim High School, Noakhali Zilla School, Feni Government College and Comilla Victoria College. He gave BA private examination from Chaumuhani College.

Prominent journalist and columnist ABM Musa started his career as a journalist at a very young age. While studying in college, he entered the world of journalism in 1950 at the age of 19 through the daily Insaf. The same year he joined the English daily The Pakistan Observer. Until 1971, he was a reporter, sports reporter and news editor for The Pakistan Observer.

He joined Dainik Sangbad in 1952 when the then government of Pakistan stopped the Pakistan Observer during the language movement. In 1954, he returned to the Daily Observer. During the war of liberation in 1971, ABM Musa worked as a correspondent for BBC, Sunday Times and other newspapers. After independence, he was the General Manager of Bangladesh Television (BTV), and the Editor of The Morning News.

In the first national election of independent Bangladesh, ABM Musa was elected Member of Parliament (MP) from his district Feni. In 1978, he joined the Bank as the Regional Director for the Asia-Pacific region of the United Nations Environment Program (ESCAP). Returning to the country, he was the Director General of the Bangladesh Press Institute from 1981 to 1985 and the General Manager and Chief Editor of the Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS) from 1985 to 1987. In 2004, he was the editor of the daily Jugantor for some time.

Legendary journalist ABM Musa is one of the founding members and lifetime member of the National Press Club. He was elected four times president and three times general secretary of the National Press Club. He was one of the founders of the Pakistan Journalists Union and the General Secretary of the East Pakistan Journalists Union.

Regarding ABM Musa's enter into the world of journalism, journalist Abu Hasan Shahriar said, "Even before the beginning of institutional journalism, going to see Gandhi was his debut in journalism. When Gandhi came to Noakhali to prevent communal riots, ABM Musa walked ten miles to catch a glimpse of him. After seeing him, he walked ten miles home again, and when he returned, he started telling the matter to the curious neighbours."

ABM Musa was like a preceptor of our post-independence journalism. His news sense was the best of all news editors. An incident from his autobiography "Amar Bela Je Jay" can be mentioned in this context. "Martyrs' Day was banned on February 21 in 1959 during the military regime. Disobeying that order, the students of Dhaka University took out a naked procession, and the police charged batons in the procession, in which ten-twelve students were injured. The order of the military authorities came in the newspapers in publishing the details of the incident--not to mention the Martyrs' Day, nor the baton charge of the police.

The next day in the 'Pakistan Observer', ABM Musa gave a huge headline: 'Twenty-first February observed. Students try to bring out procession.' Then the official called Musa and asked: 'What did you do?' ABM Musa replied, 'Why, I have followed your order as usual. Rather, I have denied the rumor that the baton has been charged'.

From this, it can be understood that ABM Musa was an intelligent and fearless journalist, and how high his news sense was. When doing page makeup, he would tell which news would be the lead, which would the second, which would the third lead, and where to use photos.

ABM Musa was not only a journalist but also a good organizer. ABM Musa was closely associated with the establishment of the first progressive youth organization in the country in the fifties, the "Democratic Youth League", which had active support from the Leftists. He added a new dimension to the sports journalism of the country. The sports organization 'Brothers Union' has been developed as an efficient sports organizer by his hands.

At first, ABM Musa did not want to do politics. When asked to contest the 1970 elections during the Pakistan period, he said, "If the country ever becomes independent, I will stand for elections—not now." He came to politics after the country became independent. After the independence of the country, in response to the call of the then Prime Minister of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, he contested from his district Feni seat as an Awami League candidate in the 1973 general election and was elected Member of Parliament of the first National Parliament of Bangladesh. After the change of political outline in 1975, he was no longer active in politics.

Legendary journalist ABM Musa has done some great things in his lifetime. Among them are the practice of putting number plates on vehicles and modernization of newspapers. The number plate on the vehicles in this country was started by ABM Musa. And this was the first beginning of the prevalence of Bengali at all levels in the country. He did all the changes, extravagance, beauty and craftsmanship of the present make-up and get-up of the newspapers.

ABM Musa was fearless and vocal in his uncompromising criticism of the government. His writing was sharp. He spoke of the rights of common people in his whole life. In the years leading up to his death, even in his old age, he spoke on television talk-shows about democratic rights, about the rights of common people—which is rare at the present time. At present, most of the so-called journalists are immersed in obsequiousness.

Good journalism, uncompromising and objective news delivery elevated ABM to a unique height. ABM Musa is a successful man who has risen to the national level in journalism. Very few people can go to this position. Many are afraid to tell the truth in this profession, but he was not afraid. He had the ability to speak the truth with courage. In addition to his courage, his words, deeds and writings also showed the human side. He did not deviate from the norm in performing his professional duties, he was steadfast in the question of morality.

ABM Musa has made significant contributions in various fields of journalism in this country for a long period of 63 years. ABM Musa has been awarded various prizes for his important contribution in journalism. These include the Ekushey Padak (1999), the Jefferson Fellowship (1970), and the Commonwealth Press Union Fellowship (1961). ABM Musa passed away on April 9, 2014 at the age of 83 after a long life of struggle. "ABM Musa was the oldest member and guardian of our journalistic community," the news report said after his death.

ABM Musa is a name of inspiration in our journalism—a bright star. He led the nation in times of crisis. He took the country's journalism to a unique height by delivering objective news. He held the keynote of uncompromising journalism.

The media or newspaper is the fourth pillar of the state, the conscience of the nation.‌ The contribution of the media to the progress and development of a state is immense. And for this we have to ensure the freedom of the media. Besides, journalists have to be honest, courageous and idealistic. By using the signboard of journalism, extortion, lobbying-trade and bias of any party cannot be done. Journalists must be uncompromising, must serve objective news. Which our journalist ABM Musa could do. So, the present and future generation of journalists need to know about ABM Musa and read his working life.

The writer is a, researcher, journalist & columnist

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