A condolence meeting on the demise of Khursheed Alam, senior journalist and media coordinator of IOS was organised by the Institute of Objective Studies on Monday at 4:30 pm.
He died of cancer.
Who was Khursheed Alam: The investigative Urdu-Hindi journalist who called a spade a spade, writes Firoz Bakht Ahmed in his timeline.
“Our very sincere and honest scribe friend, Khursheed Alam, 54, is no more. He carved his niche both in Urdu and Hindi media owing to his unique style of investigative reportage on matters relating to public interest and mostly related to the cause of uplifting the downtrodden and the underprivileged. Wherever he saw that something wrong or against the common multitudes was going in, he packed his bag with writing pad, camera, recorder and pens — in fact his weapons!
“While Khursheed was at the peak of his career at 54, Allah needed him more and called to His Heavenly Abode. He had penned more than 3,500 reportages for a variety of newspapers and magazines, including, “Qaumi Awaz”, “Akhbar-e-Mashriq”, “Afkar-e-Milli”, “Al-Jamiat”, “Rashtriya Sahara”, “Hind Samachar”, “”Hindustan Express”, “Khabrein”, “Aziz-ul-Hind”, “Sahafat”, “Hind News”, “Nai Dunia”, “Akhbar-e-Nau”, “Aag” and many others (all Urdu). Amongst the Hindi newspapers, he was quite prolific with “Dainik Jagran”, “Hindustan Hindi”, “Jansatta”, “Amar Ujala”, “Hamaro Jaipur”, “Hari Bhoomi”, “Saras Salil”, “Sarita”, “Rajasthan Patrika” and “Mahamedha Times”. He had an inimitable style of recording facts conveyed with a pointed approach and poignancy known only to him.
“Khursheed was lucky that he was ably supported by his family hailing from Kanpur with Mohammed Shahabuddin, a doting father, loving mother and Nadeem, an affectionate brother.
“Having completed his graduation from Kanpur University, now known as Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj University, Khursheed was very fond of writing since his childhood and used to contribute short stories, “Pahelian” (puzzles), “Latifey” (jokes) etc in “Khilauna” and “Payam-e-Taleem”. He joined the journalism course at Jhansi without informing his father. Though his father reprimanded but he convinced him that he was doing something in which he had his heart and would make his dent felt on the fabric of journalism.
“In 1982, Khursheed settled in Delhi and started very hard and honestly. Truth is that he wanted to join a regular daily in Urdu or Hindi and very rightly deserved that but never got an opening to join a newspaper regularly. Nevertheless, he did work on contract basis in many newspapers where he got a paltry amount that he utilized for educating his three children, namely, Anzla Khursheed, who completed his Civil Engineering this year only, Osama Khursheed, a student with NIFT doing leather designing and daughter, Anisa Iram, a BFA student. In order to educate these children, he used to run from pillar to post, used the same pair of shoes and wore the same shirt for years on.
“Though Khursheed was smart and good looking and could have used the money for wearing designer clothes and trendy shoes and sumptuous food. However, keeping in view the future of his children, he sacrificed a lot. However, it was at “Ifkar-e-Milli” that Khursheed joined both as manager and also wielded the pen, thanks mainly to Qasim Rasool Ilyas. Though the salary here wasn’t very handsome but he managed well and came to be well known in the world of Urdu media as “Afkar-e-Milli’s” clientele has been the who’s who of the Muslim community in India and abroad.
“Khursheed’s potential was recognised by all the Hindi and Urdu newspapers, yet no space was created for him as he was a man who called a spade a spade and usually it is spineless people who are selected. May be, he was not in a position to palm the grease of his bosses in lieu of an offer of a permanent job. He persevered and pulled on with the ridiculously paltry amounts he used to get. They used him as a tissue paper. Once their task was done in the most efficient manner, they said, “Tata, good bye!”
“Khursheed’s competence was unassailable. Once he told me about a Himalayan blunder, a fact that got hushed up in the class 9 Social Studies textbooks. It was mentioned that Maulana Azad was born in Uttar Pradesh whereas the truth is that he was born in Mecca and in 1898, came to India with his father. Immediately, I wrote a letter to the NCERT and also sent a legal notice stating that is was distortion of history about a cult figure and the man who had given the blueprint of Modern education to India. Objection was sustained and the reprint came out with the correction. This mistake was not noted by anyone but the sharp Khursheed.
“We shared a lot in common. Many times, over a cup of tea or dinner at my place, Khursheed and myself exchanged views on a variety of topics including the changed political scenario, the paucity of good education for the community children, backwardness of Urdu medium schools, voting pattern of the community and many other issues. What is most lamented is that the connoisseurs of the stories with punch and poignancy will badly miss Khursheed’s reportage. May Allah grant him with the best of what he had missed in this mortal and ephemeral world.”
(Firoz Bakht Ahmed is a columnist, educator and grandnephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, India’s first Minister of Education. He resides in Okhla)