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Tipu Sultan - The Journalist from Bangladesh

Unflinching in moments of pain.

Tipu Sultan undergoes surgery in Bangkok for third time tomorrow

FRAIL, lean and thin Tipu Sultan, the Feni correspondent of the UNB, would undergo surgery for the third time in both his hands tomorrow (Saturday) at Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok. The operation would be done by a team of highly qualified surgeons and medical personnel led by Dr Sitthiporn Orapin, the orthopaedic surgeon of the internationally renowned hospital. According to doctors attending Tipu Sultan, surgeries in both hands are required to release tension of the tendons.

In Bangkok Tipu was first operated on May 15 in his both hands. A second surgery was done in his right hand on May 21. His legs were too treated to contain infection. The courageous young journalist reminds one of the bold battle scars he has received all over his body on January 25 this year.

On January 25 this year, Tipu Sultan, a young man aged 27 years, was alleged to have been attacked on the orders of Zoynal Hazari, a ruling party member of parliament.

According to Tipu Sultan's version given to this writer, the nightmarish incident happened on the night of January 25, as he was waiting for a rickshaw at a petrol station in Feni. On the orders of Hazari, Tipu Sultan was snatched and dumped in a white microbus by his armed cadres and taken to Zahir Raihan hall to "cut off the hands and legs". Tipu was first taken to Shaheed Sultan Community Centre at Mizan Road located in Feni and beaten up severely. Hazari, who arrived at the place, ordered his men to take Tipu to Zahir Raihan Hall and accordingly Tipu was taken to the location. There, it is reported, Tipu Sultan was mercilessly beaten up by hockey sticks, baseball bats and iron rods and left there in an unconscious state.

Subsequently, Tipu Sultan was first taken to a local hospital and, later on January 27, transferred to the National Orthopaedic (Pangu) Hospital in the capital, where he underwent four surgeries in his left hand. However, no surgery was done on his right hand.

While Tipu Sultan was admitted to the Pangu hospital it was alleged that Hazari's men pressured doctors to discharge Tipu Sultan immediately. It was widely alleged that the physicians at the hospital succumbed to the threat and intimidation of Hazari's men and asked Tipu Sultan to "pack up and go," as there was nothing more they could do for his treatment in the country.

Thanks to an overwhelming expression of solidarity by the country's journalist community, the sympathy of its people and the generous efforts of the diplomatic community in Dhaka, Tipu Sultan was flown to Bangkok for further treatment. He was admitted at the renowned Bumrungrad Hospital on May 8 and put in the care of the hospital's expert medical team.

It takes quite an effort for Tipu Sultan to speak. However, his resolve and determination remains steely as ever. "I wholeheartedly thank the people of Bangladesh for their generosity, expression of solidarity. To me, it amounts to their expression of silent protest against those unruly elements."

The government should arrest those culprits who are anti-people and it is high time the administration in the country should come forward to restore law and order, he added.

This writer spoke to the doctors who attend on Tipu Sultan about his recovery. They told that he has eighty per cent chances of recovery but they expressed apprehension that it may take years for him to lead a normal life. The fear that Tipu Sultan may become crippled is no more, but it may take his entire lifetime to put behind the traumatic experience.

KT Rajasingham is a senior journalist of the region. He writes political commentaries.

The Daily Star-Bangladesh- 08/06/01