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Simon Dring, a British journalist and ‘friend’ of Bangladesh, dies at 76

  • Syed Nahas Pasha, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2021-07-20 14:41:09 BdST

Simon Dring, a famous British foreign correspondent, television producer and presenter, who rose to fame for covering wars and revolutions around the world, has died at the age of 76.

Dring, revered as a “true friend” of Bangladesh, also covered the horrors of the country’s war of independence from Pakistan in 1971. He was among about 50 foreign journalists confined to their hotel, the Intercontinental, in Dhaka on Mar 25, 1971.

Dring was undergoing routine surgery for a hernia in Romania on Friday when he had a heart attack, said Chris Barlas, a cousin. The surgical team was unable to revive him. Dring leaves behind his partner Fiona McPherson, and three daughters.

Born in 1945, Dring began his career in journalism as a feature writer with the Bangkok World Newspaper. He would go on to report the start of the Vietnam War, acting as a reporter for Reuters and other news organisations.

He later held positions at the BBC and The Telegraph, reporting from Biafra, Bangladesh, Eritrea and many other countries.

Dring was on the plane that brought Ruhollah Khomeini from Paris to Iran after the Iranian revolution. He was injured several times in the course of his duties and was imprisoned in Uganda by Idi Amin and threatened with execution. He also won several awards for his work.

In 1997, Dring joined partners in Bangladesh to found Ekushey Television (ETV), the first private terrestrial television operation in the country, by bringing together a team of over 50 reporters, producers and editors.
 
OUT OF BANGLADESH

Dring, managing director of the Ekushey Television station, left Bangladesh in 2002, after the government led by the then Prime Minister Khaleda Zia issued a deportation order. ETV got a licence under the previous Awami League government.

But immediately after the Khaleda administration came to power, ETV faced a difficult time. The validity of its broadcasting licence was challenged by supporters of the ruling coalition. The Supreme Court cancelled the licence in 2002 after lengthy legal procedures. Ekushey Television went off the air the same day, after the government shut down its transmission facilities.

At the time, ETV insisted that its news and current affairs coverage was neutral and objective, but the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party believed it was biased against them.

Before his departure, Dring was given a farewell reception, at which many of Bangladesh's leading cultural personalities were present. Dring told the audience that it was the second time he was being deported from Dhaka.

In 1971, during the Bangladesh war of independence, he was deported from Dhaka along with other western journalists who were reporting on the atrocities carried out by the Pakistani army in the then East Pakistan.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

Dring wrote a book to accompany a BBC TV series, “On The Road Again: Thirty Years On The Traveller's Trail To India”, which was published by BBC Books. In 1962, at the age of 16, Dring was one of the first to walk what was to become the hippie trail to India. In the summer of 1994, he set off again to retrace his footsteps on an 18,000-mile overland journey across some of the most volatile regions of the world.

[With details from BBC News]