Islmabad: Minhaj Burna, who ought all his life for the rights of journalists passed away today. He was admitted in hospital few days back. The celebrated journalist was also founder of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists. His namaz-e-janaza was offered at 3.00pm at Race Course Ground, Rawalpindi.
Barna was a founding member of the All Pakistan Newspaper Employees Confederation (APNEC) and was an active member of Pakistan Federal Union for Journalists (PFUJ) and Karachi Union for Journalists (KUJ). A book of his poetry Marsia: Chouthay Satoon Ka or A Lament for the Fourth Pillar has also been published.
Senior journalist and former colleague Hafizur Rehman referred to him as an “inspiration to the entire journalistic community”. According to Rehman, Barna began his pursuit for freedom of speech when he was a college student at the Jamia Millia in New Dehli, India. He went on to join the All India Youth Federation and support the local Communist Movement.
His journalistic career began in Mumbai where he started work as a reporter in the Urdu newspaper Dehli Inqilaab. After partition Barna transitioned to the English press and became a leading member of journalists’ trade unions.
He is best known for his role in a ten day newspaper strike conducted in 1970 in which no newspaper was published to protest low wages. He was also instrumental to the anti-censorship movement in 1977 and 1978 when newspapers like the Daily Musawat were shut down by the government of the time. He led a hunger strike and courted arrest multiple times.
Rehman recalls that as journalists protested for freedom of speech they used to chant a familiar slogan, Teray saath jeena, Teray saath marna — Minhaj Barna Minhaj Barna. His services to the cause of journalists will be remembered forever.