ASM Younus: A man of Love and Conscience and not of Ambition

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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

– Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Book 1, Chapter 1

Bangladesh is a place where there is little of hope where much to do. We have villains more than heroes. Heroes are a class which is a rarity in Bangladesh. Though our elder generation keep a snobbish view of our generation but they forget to keep a look on themselves that how much they have put before us from where we can take the lead and proceed further? Can young generation of today get people of honesty, integrity and dedication in ample number in our earlier generations? If we get the different picture we should have been more proud. But there is darkness in almost all of the sectors. Of course there are few people, few persons there who are shining like a deem light in the abysmal darkness all around. To uplift a nation from such an all encompassing darkness this lights are not enough.

In that grim picture we still are lucky to know persons like ASM Younus. This little man in size possess one of the biggest hearts any Bangladeshi can possess. People like us can really take inspiration from ASM Younus. Really he is inspiring people like us in many ways. He says little but do more. We are receiving much more things from his simple life with events and meaning. As ASM Younus is a man of action and not of words and stay away from speaking about oneself it will be better for us if we focus on his huge works which will save much of our adjectives which we need to store for him.

If we bring the last story first we will get a clear picture of ASM Younus.

ASM Younus was the crown-less monarch of the people of the enclaves. It will not cross the limit of audacity if I say he was one of the counting persons who tried to give voice to those voiceless people.

There were no NGOs, no foreign donations, no help from anywhere, anyone. Just love for the oppressed class, commitment to humanity ASM Younus took the  street to come into a service to those people. After all has achieved few months ago Mr. Younus called his movement off. Where many mediocre leaders and organizers would try to capitalize from their past activities Younus set a different example. He didn’t want to be a beneficiary. He struggled hard for the freedom of enclave people, not to take part of the cake which is put forward to the people of enclaves.

He could take a political career by capitalizing on those achievements. But he is a matter of other substances, not like people around us. He is a man of great heart, love and conscience but not of ambition.

The people of the enclaves in between Bangladesh and India were one of the most deprived segments in the both nation. The state of those stateless people were ignoble, pitying. It was in the heart of the people like ASM Younus who opened first for those imprisoned people inside two states. They were leading primitive, slave like life under the sky of modern world who had some finer slogans for humanity, development and globalization.

Interesting point in this endeavour is that ASM Younus is not from that community, he is not an enclave people and yet he risked his life to work for those people.

He stayed months after months in the enclaves of India and Bangladesh to understand the nature and gravity of the  crisis and empathize and sympathize with the people there. After educating himself of the nature of the problem he organized the people  of the enclaves and made them politically aware and also taught them how they should put forward their issues to the table of authority and above all the conscience of humanity.

He also felt that he cannot  reach to the authority by shouting in the enclaves because the boundary was too high to cross and reach to the ears of authority. It is by placing the issues in the centre, in the capital they can put their issues to the authority who were not heeding to them for more than six decades.

He organized human chain in Press Club, he involved university professors in his movement. And to raise and familiarize this issues to student community he founded a student wing. The student wing played vital role in organizing different programs, human chains in Dhaka University  campus. From 2012 they are organizing regular programs to push and pressurize two governments on this issue. That his love for the enclave people is real is manifested brightly when we will find this little man with big heart stay busy day and night to arrange winter clothes for those people. His organizations regularly distributed winter clothes to those enclave people.

He faced extremity as he enjoyed extreme love. Though we have had a historical relation and friendship with India but our border stories nowadays say little to assert with confidence of such claim. Regular killing en-masse of Bangladeshis in the border are regular stories over the years. In this regard it is easily comprehensible how much challenges and threats were there for ASM Younus. As he was not friend to BSF and he was also not sure how Bangladeshi authority will take look on him. In this dubious and conflicting situation only a brave heart, noble heart can stay in such an uneven battle field.

He doesn’t have anything to store in the bank account. He received little or nothing except the unconditional love and respect from the enclave people. He spent whatever he could earn from writing which was his inconsistent earning. He had already came forward with 15 books. Some of his significant works are: “Haorbasir Jibonkotha”; “Padma Nadir Jiban O Sangram”, “Alokito Noakhali”; “Brihottor Begumgonj’r Gourob Gatha”, “Sonaimuri’s Etibritto”; “Bangler Durgom Jonopod Shala”, “Akutoboy Bir”; “Bedonar Nill Podma”; “Jiban Ek Bishadmoy” “Sagor Konna Nizum Dip” etc.

As I know this person very closely for two eventful years I’ve seen much of him very nearly. He did such great works on the issues where academicians scarcely focus on. Like a true and committed scholar researcher he put light on the issues where there was darkness before his entrance and as a forerunner he had to created road for himself. Now after a decades of hard work Mr Younus can say with confidence and Bangladeshi intelligentsia also can feel some confidence that there are some matters in the market. Mr. Younus wrote, talked extensively on those issues. From enclave to haor people, from capital to the remote people he was an active voice, a Hercules in Bangladesh.

He is not a rich man by all definitions. He doesn’t have any home or properties except some books he wrote. But he possesses one of the richest heart from Bangladesh. He sacrificed almost everything he earned for the service of the deprived section, for the service of the student bodies. Many students share their hard stories with ASM Younus and he helped them whatever he had with him. He had created a big devoted friend circle in Dhaka University. He is the first person who initiated the distribution of winter clothes to enclave people with the help of his friends.

This little man will remind us of Isshorchandra Bidysagor and people like them. One of his admirers lovingly called him ‘the Nelson Mandela of enclaves’. Truly we have to be proud of Mr Younus. Because so far heart like Younus will stay in Bangladesh, still there is lot to hope, hope for a bright future.

Sabidin Ibrahim

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