200 Years of Urdu Journalism
The Qaumi Tanzeem has played a great role in my life. I must say living in Qaumi Tanzeem and Sabzi Bagh, which has a large Muslim population, I never felt discriminated.
Dr Abhay Kumar
THE Urdu daily, Qaumi Tanzeem, is one of the leading newspapers in Bihar. It is here I spent almost four years during my graduation days. The editor of Qaumi Tanzeem, late Ajmal Fareed, was very kind to me and he used to call me “balak” (boy).
For many it may appear strange but it is true that I lived in the office of the daily. The editors never asked me for any rent. Even the late Ajmal Saheb was always ready to ask if I needed any money. When I did not have any penny left in my pocket and all doors seemed to be closed on me, Ajmal Saheb’s chamber was the ray of hope. He used to put money in my pocket with smile. His elder brother Ashraf Fareed, the editor in chief, was also very helpful. The Faridi brothers are from Darbhanga, Bihar and their father, S.M. Umar Fareed launched the Urdu daily. Later the paper shifted its base to Patna.
It is here I have grown up. It is at this place I used to discuss and write about the current issues. Living among journalists was a great boon for me.
On several occasions I used to translate English material into Urdu at the Qaumi Tanzeem and when I was free I used to cover press conferences and meetings. On returning I used to get Rs 20 as convenience amount from Khan Chacha, the manager. In those days I used to pedal cycle to save Rs 20.
Friends, I do not know if those days will be ever back. But whenever I visit Patna, I go to Sabzi Bagh lane and visit the office.
In the last two decades, the structure of the Qaumi Tanzeem has changed. New building has been constructed on the ruins of the old one but my memory remains as firm as fort.
Today (May 5) in the Qaumi Tanzeem office I met Tarique Farid Saheb (in white cap), editor and younger brother of late Ajmal Saheb. (picture above) In the left is standing Rashid Ahmad Saheb (in Kurta), who takes care of the opinion page. He is also a very knowledgeable person and has worked with Qaumi Tanzeem for three decades. When I was living here, Rashid Saheb used to visit my room and asked for “Tulsi ki chai”. To the right in blue shirt is Rajendra ji who is in accounting section and when he saw me his first remark was: “how much you have changed”.
It has been the tradition that both Hindus and Muslims have worked in Qaumi Tanzeem. There is no religious ghetto here. Nor have I ever felt it in Sabzi Bagh.
I must admit that whatever I am today, the Qaumi Tanzeem has a great role in shaping it. I must say living in Qaumi Tanzeem and Sabzi Bagh, which has a large Muslim population, I never felt discriminated. Nor has anyone made any remarks against my religious identity. Living in Sabzi Bagh I enjoyed good food at editors and friends houses. Particularly, I am missing Khurshid Hashmi Sabeb, who was a senior editor at the Qaumi Tanzeem and died during corona pandemic. Hashmi Saheb was very close to me.
Given the communal atmosphere in the country which is being created and manufactured by the Hindutva forces, there is an urgent need to revive our composite culture.
The Hindus of the country must say it loudly that they do not feel any threat from their Muslim brothers. They must say that it is a only saffron forces, which feel Hindus are in danger. It is high time we smashed this communal narrative.
Dr Abhay Kumar is a Delhi-based independent journalist and writer. He did his PhD (Modern History) from Jawaharlal Nehru University. He also teaches Political Science and Urdu. You may write to him at [email protected]. (Taken from his FB post)