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Azad, The


Azad, The once influential but now defunct national vernacular newspaper. It started its publication in Kolkata on 31 October 1936 with Maulana Mohammad Akram Khan as editor, and was considered to be the voice of the Muslims of Bengal and Assam in the 1940s. Mohammad Modabber was then its news editor. The overall responsibility of the publication was performed by the editor himself along with his eldest son Mohammad Khairul Anam Khan. Abul Kalam Shamsuddin and Nazir Ahmed Chowdhury were associated with the paper. Khairul Kabir was the regional reporter from Dhaka.

After the partition of India (1947) the total establishment of the paper was shifted to Dhaka on 19 October 1948. The Dhaka chapter of the paper opened with Abul Kalam Shamsuddin as editor, Khairul Kabir as news editor, and with Mujibur Rahman Khan and Abu Jafar Shamsuddin in the editorial section. Thereafter the Azad rose to the position of a leading daily newspaper of East Bengal.

The publication of the paper was interrupted for sometime. In 1949, the theme of an editorial in the paper led to bitter controversy in the East Bengal Legislative Assembly. Consequently the access of the staff reporter of the Azad to the Assembly session was made restricted, and the government stopped allocation of advertisement to the paper.

The Azad had a courageous role in the language movement. As a protest against the killing of students in Dhaka by police firing on 21 February 1952, the Azad published special supplement. Abul Kalam Shamsuddin, now editor of the paper and a member of the Legislative Assembly, resigned from the Assembly in protest. It vehemently protested against the various repressive rules and ordinances issued during the regime of ayub khan. It played an important role during the mass upsurge in 1969 and protested against the agartala conspiracy case.

On the death of Maulana Akram Khan in 1969 conflict arose as to the ownership of the paper. After the emergence of Bangladesh the paper continued to be published for sometime under government management; but it was again transfered to private ownership. The Azad ceased to exist from 1990. [Manu Islam]