Barrister Mainul Hosein, former caretaker adviser who once ran Ittefaq, is dead at 83

He was in charge of law, justice and parliamentary affairs, among others, during his tenure in the 2007-2008 caretaker government

Published : 9 Dec 2023, 02:00 PM
Updated : 9 Dec 2023, 02:00 PM

Barrister Mainul Hosein, a former adviser to a caretaker government whose legacy is largely defined by his long struggle to take control of the Ittefaq titles, has died at a Dhaka hospital at the age of 83.

The end came at Evercare Hospital, where he had been undergoing treatment, around 6pm on Saturday, said Wahid Zaman, an aide to Mainul.

Arif Mahmud, director of medical services at the hospital, said Mainul was admitted to the private facility a few days ago and was under Professor Saleh Ahmed’s supervision.

The family said Mainul will be buried at Azimpur Graveyard in the capital on Sunday after funeral prayers at Baridhara Jam-e-Mosque at 10:30am and another following Zuhr prayers at the Supreme Court premises.

Mainul was the publisher and editorial board chief of The Daily New Nation. The English-language broadsheet is another title of the Ittefaq Group of Publications.

He had famously described the 2007-8 caretaker administration as “a military government with a civilian façade” which he served as a cabinet member in charge of the information ministry for one year.

He was essentially fired after a year in the role.

Mainul was one of the sponsors of the Jatiya Oikya Front, an alliance headed by former Gono Forum President Dr Kamal Hossain and formed ahead of the 2018 parliamentary polls.

The BNP-led alliance became inactive after their election debacle.

Just two months before the election, Mainul was arrested and ended up in jail with ordinary prisoners on charges of defaming journalist Masuda Bhatti on a TV talk-show, where he called her “a woman of loose morals”.

Born in Pirojpur on Jan 14, 1940, Mainul graduated in political science from Dhaka University in 1961 after studying at Nawabpur Government School and Dhaka College.

He later studied law at Middle Temple in London and returned in 1965 before starting his career as a lawyer.

The eldest son of The Daily Ittefaq founder-editor Tofazzal Hossain Manik Miah, he took charge of the highly successful title after his father’s death in 1969.

In 1973, he returned to the legal profession, but continued as chairman of the board of editors at the newspaper.

Mainul’s bitter, often bloody, dispute with his younger brother Anwar Hossain Manju - who in his own right had served in both Ershad and Hasina cabinets, for the ownership of the influential daily had made headlines for years before a settlement was reached in 2010.

His associations with Ittefaq were more influential in shaping his identity than his professional pursuits as a lawyer or politician.

He was elected from Barishal as the youngest MP the same year on the Awami League’s ticket, but resigned in 1975 in protest against constitutional changes.

Mainul was president of the Supreme Court Bar Association from 2000 to 2001.

He was elected president of Bangladesh Sangbadpatra Parishad and member of the Press Council several times.