Minar Mahmud dies

The editor of the now-defunct Bichinta, which became famous in the 1980s for its write-ups against the military regime, is found dead in a Dhaka hotel. Full story

Published : 29 March 2012, 07:38 AM
Updated : 29 March 2012, 07:38 AM
Dhaka Mar 29 (bdnews24.com)—Minar Mahmud, editor of the now-defunct Bichinta, a popular news magazine in 1980s, was found dead in a Dhaka hotel on Thursday, police said.
A police officer said his body was found in a room of Regency Hotel on the Airport Road. The officer could not confirm the cause of the death immediately.
"His body was found on a table at room no 7028 on the sixth floor of the hotel," said Khilkhet Police Station officer in-charge (OC) Shamim Hossain.
The officer told bdnews24.com that Mahmud had checked in to the hotel on Wednesday morning. The hotel authorities informed police about the death of Mahmud at 5pm Thursday.
Bichinta, which became famous in the 1980s for its write-ups against the military regime, re-appeared recently for a short period of time after Mahmud returned from a long self-exile in the United States.
Empty foil packs of around 100 sleeping pills, Revotril, were found in the hotel room, police officer Shamim Hosain said.
Police also found a five-page letter apparently written by Mahmud to his wife 'Lajuk'.
"The letter reads, 'I didn't get anyone like you in my life. I am not returning to America. No one is responsible for my death'," Shamim said.
Mahmud's brother Mehedi Hasan told bdnews24.com that he had returned from the USA in 2009 and his third wife Lajuk lives at Uttara.
Self-exiled writer Taslima Nasrin was Mahmud's second wife.
"In the letter he wrote at least thrice that he would not commit suicide. But he wrote: 'I have only Tk 4,000 in bank. What shall I do in Dhaka city?'" the police officer said.
"Then again he wrote in favour of suicide," he added.
Shamim also said Mahmud's mobile phone had been switched off since 3:30pm Wednesday.
"We suspect that he died last (Wednesday) night," he added.
Hotel authorities said he did not go to restaurant at the hotel and none supplied food from outside after he checked in.
Regency Hotel chairman Kabir Reza told bdnews24.com, "We have checked video footage captured in closed circuit TV camera that Mahmud did not bring any luggage with him when he checked in."
He told the police that Mahmud did not leave his room even after his checkout time ended on Thursday noon.
They found Mahmud dead when they unlocked the room at 5:00pm, he said. "Then we informed the police."
Mahmud's brother Mehedi Hasan told reporters, "We could not trace him since Thursday afternoon and later came to know that he was staying at a tower in Nikunja area."
He alleged that the hotel authorities did not cooperate with him when he went there to enquire about his brother at around 4pm.
Fifty-year-old Mahmud was born in Faridpur. A sociology graduate from Dhaka University Mahmud started his career as a stringer in now-defunct weekly Bichitra in mid-1980s.
Then he launched his own weekly news magazine Bichinta in June 1987. The weekly closed down after was arrested in January 1988 for writing against military regime of H M Ershad.
The publication of the weekly resumed in February 1991 after Ershad was overthrown He, however, stopped publishing the weekly in the same year and went to the USA.
After 18 years he returned to Bangladesh in 2009. "He didn't visit Bangladesh even for a single day during this period," his friend Moinul Ahsan Saber, editor of weekly magazine 'Saptahik 2000' said.
Then he resumed publication of Bichinta in October 2010.
He had a major brain surgery at Dhaka's Apollo Hospital in March last year and was advised full bed rest. After that Bichinta's publication was closed for the third time.
Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher