Hyderabad: Mr. Shafique ul Hassan who is a Delhi based journalist of unique kind wakes up at 5 a.m. every day and reads dozens of newspapers to sort out important news items with an intention to share them with friends, relatives, leaders etc.
Mr. Hassan started his career as a young journalist at the age of 16 years when he published a Hindi newspaper.
Later, when his father admonished him to complete his formal education, he discontinued publishing it.
He sought admission in XI class. After passing XII class examination, he took admission in BA course in IGNOU. Later, he completed MA in Political Science from Jamia Millia Islamia.
He visited many cities like Aligarh, Lucknow, Bangalore etc.
Mr. Hassan came to Delhi on 13th April 1986. He said that he had only Rs. 5 in his pocket at that time. He started his work from Qarol Bagh in New Delhi.
He took an interview of Haji Mastan. He covered Saddam Husain’s news item.
In 1987, he started an advertising agency by name, “Sky Adds” which fetched him Rs. 4500 per month.
Sharing news on WhatsApp
The turning point in his life came when he read the news of the incident of lynching Junaid which was published on 24th June 2017. He started sharing news items on WhatsApp.
Initially, he started sending news items to 100 persons. He said that his craze for sharing sensitive news items increased due to the growth of social media network.
24th March 2020 is the 1000th day of that solo journey without a holiday.
On the occasion, Mr. Hassan shared his daily routine.
Though I have not been a journalist, it has never been my livelihood nor I have ever considered as part of my social responsibility, it only a passion that I closely followed since my childhood. Yet, something so tragic happened on 24 June 2017 that even I couldn’t have thought in my wildest imagination that it would catapult my whole life upside down and will rob me off my family time every morning for the next 1,000 days! And, today is the 1,000th day!
The tragedy that shook me to the core was the brutal lynching of 16-year-old boy Hafiz Junaid, inside a rail compartment when he was returning his home after Eid shopping!
While it shook the nation with disgust and lamenting over that human-inflicted tragedy was pretty common across the country, I decided to do something that could help build bridges across communities and usher India into a more informed society so that there’s no repeat of such a tragedy ever again.
I initiated my absolutely pro bono daily news service with the Indian Express clipping of Junaid’s lynching. Over the course of past 3 years, I never imagined that this one of its kinds initiative would bring so much of love, appreciation, and recognition for me in India and across the world! Of course, as they say, nothing comes without a cost, but in this particular case, call it a cost or investment turned out to be my health! It also entailed depriving my family, especially my wife the attention that she needed while she also went through a pretty challenging period on the health front! But it’s her unflinching support that enabled me to follow my passion in a mission mode!
The idea was so unique and innovative that nobody conceived it earlier. I have been sharing important news clippings on Twitter and Facebook for several years, the launch of WhatsApp made my work easy. After sharing news of Junaid’s lynching with around 100 friends, I remained disturbed the whole day and by the night I decided that I will initiate a small battle with fake news that is responsible for the growing hatred in the society. Soon a thought came to my mind that what could I do to combat that menace. I determined that in this huge world of social media I have a small world of my friends and well-wishers, and at least I can start my mission from there. To start this, I needed nothing- not money, not office, not a team, no political patronage of any sort. I needed just 3 things… 1. Me, 2. My mobile, and my morning newspapers! With a deep sense of commitment to do something for the society I started my journey from the next morning! By the grace of Almighty, I am so proud to say that today is the 1000th day of that solo journey without a holiday.
Nobody asked me to do this work without a break, free of cost, single-handedly and that too to do put out my service sharp at 8.00 AM. It was my personal commitment that I made to myself! Alhamdulillah, that no matter what happened in my life, wherever I went in India and abroad, so much ups and downs I have gone through, but I managed to uphold my commitment, without a single holiday.
Every morning I had to wake up at 5 am, going first online, scanning and selecting 15-20 stories from e-papers and from hard copies when they were delivered by my hawkers. After putting out my first bulletin at 8.00 AM, I kept myself engaged and used to put out stories, ensuring that nothing important is missed till 11 am. Even after that I was not free and used to broadcast breaking news and other important developments throughout the day!
I did it from my kids’ schools, from hospital where my mother was being operated, from the Eidgah where my 8.00 am time was clashing with namaz, on Holi, Diwali, Christmas and other holidays, while traveling in the country. Last year, when one of my cousin died in a road accident, I had to rush to my hometown but still I managed to put out my morning service in spite of that emergency situation in the family.
In August, 2018 I was in Europe with my wife to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. From London to Rome, 16 days, 10 countries, I did it without fail and that too on time! Last year, in October, I was on a family trip to the UAE. I did it from Dubai for 10 days, without a second’s delay.
No matter which part of the world I have been in India, Europe, or the Middle East, putting out my service every day, on time, sharp at 8 am remained my passion and commitment! I feel so fortunate that the Almighty made it possible for me! The network of this service has become so huge and so is the impact. Many clippings go viral and reach to millions around the world. Now my most of the beneficiaries say that they now read and forward these clippings only. Dubai based friends say that they have started learning Urdu. Shahnawaz Khan, DIG (CRPF) posted in Assam says, “Because of your Urdu news clippings, I have developed interest in Urdu and have asked my wife in Delhi to subscribe at least 2 Urdu dailies so that my children can also learn Urdu.”
When I completed 365 days of my service on 24th June, 2018, my entire network congratulated me and celebrated the occasion. People other than my network also noticed it. On the 2nd anniversary on 24th June, 2019, the event was even bigger. The celebration was so huge and overwhelming and some close friends organized a party as well. IICC president Mr. Sirajuddin Qureshi announced on my WhatsApp network that IICC is also planning to celebrate the completion of my two years. Subsequently, India Islamic Cultural Centre organized a grand felicitation ceremony with a fully packed BS Abdurrahman Auditorium on 26th July, 2019.
In October, 2019 when I was in UAE, friends in Dubai organized 2 events. A grand felicitation in Dubai and a get-together in Sharjah. Similarly, when I completed 800 days my friend Mirza Qamrul Hasan Beg organized a dinner to celebrate the occasion. When I completed 900 days, my friend Ilyas Malik Sb celebrated the occasion by organizing a grand dinner at his residence!
A number of newspapers, including Daily Inquilab, Roznama Sahara, Times Kuwait, Nav Bharat Times, wrote elaborate articles on my service, especially appreciating me for keeping it pro bono and my discipline. There have been programmes on a number of channels like.. News 18 Urdu, Tehzeeb TV, Sahara Samay, DD Urdu and several YouTube Channels again underscoring my commitment to the cause of spreading awareness and building bridges across the communities in India and abroad.
Then came that tragic day that will remain a big regret of my life! On 16 December 2019, on 906th day of my service, I was rushed to Apollo’s emergency department and was admitted in the ICU due to a sudden chest pain and spike in my BP and the only 6 days break happened due to this. Perhaps it was the result of accumulated stress of the past 906 days!
After I was discharged from the hospital, I couldn’t recover fully even though continued my service in the morning and throughout the day despite various advices from doctors, friends and family!
Lying in the ICU, I was trying to convince myself that it all was happening for a cause! I thought it could have happened earlier as well…is it some sort of indication to me from the Almighty? Looking at my wife’s worrying face, my children’s restlessness, I used to ask myself, “What is their fault? What for they are suffering?” And, I felt so guilty!
With my service today completing 1,000 days, it’s time for me to hang up my boots as that’s what I promised to my family and friends! I did what I could without any expectation of any recognition or anything in return. However, I have to confess that the love, affection, appreciation, recognition and accolades I received in this journey was way beyond my imagination and much more than efforts I put in! That will remain with me as one of the most beautiful chapters of this journey called life! It will always be right on the top whenever I will count my blessings and thank Allah, my parents, family and friends!