I can not recollect exactly when I first met Dr. Jaffor Ullah. It was probably the year 1977 or 1978. Jaffor Bhai visited to our maternal uncle A.H. Salahuddin's Indira office of the Bangladesh Gramophone Company on Indira Road. That office was located inside Uncle's house. I saw Jaffor Bhai at a glimpse. Our uncle was a close friend of Jaffor Bhai. Whenever Jaffor Bhai came to Bangladesh, he made sure to drop by our uncle's office.
Fast forward. In the early 1990's I was living in Florida. I got a call from Jaffor Bhai from Slidell, Louisiana. After an introduction, he asked me if I was interested in writing for certain publications in Louisiana. I replied in the affirmative. After that conversation, our telephonic ties became strengthened. Jaffor Bhai and I started to correspond via snail mail. Once he sent me poetry written by his eldest son Rashad Ullah. Rashad was probably a sixth grade student then.
Dr. Jaffor Ullah introduced me to the Dhaka-based Internet daily NEWS FROM BANGLADESH. That website ultimately became a platform for dissident writers. The editor Tanvir Chowdhury was known to Jaffor Bhai. Tanvir took bold steps in publishing materials, which were thought to be not publishable in the contemporary Bangladeshi media.
In 1971, Jaffor Bhai was very much involved in organizing American public opinion in favor of Bangladesh's independence. He was then a young university student in the USA. During that time, Jaffor Bhai got connected with the liberal Pakistani student leader Feroz Ahmed, through whom he became closer to a few Sindhi-American activists. In early 2000, Jaffor Bhai linked me up with Munawar Laghari, a dedicated activist for the Sindhi cause. Jaffor Bhai came to the DC area and stayed with us to attend a Sindhi conference. I was one of the attendees of the historical gathering in the US Capitol. This is the first time, I had come face to face with my activist friend from Louisiana. Jaffor Bhai took all the photos of the Sindhi conference. Unfortunately, he declined to be in the photos himself. This is the way Jaffor Bhai remained the Internet's unsung hero on many occasions. Here is the link to the conference, with the photos he took: http://cyber_bangla0.tripod.com/Sind/Jamal.html
Through the 1990's and 2000's, Jaffor Bhai and I worked on a number of online projects as a team. As a quick and skillful editor, he helped many aspiring web writers publish their materials on the Internet. Some of those writers have established themselves as the giants among dissidents.
Dr. Jaffor Ullah was an outspoken man, who called a spade a spade. He never hesitated to speak his mind without resorting to political correctness. As a political observer he was a great forecaster. More than a decade ago, he created a website regarding the growth of political Islam in Bangladesh. It was called "The Islamization of Bangladesh; Is it complete?" At the time many readers thought Jaffor Bhai was alarmist. Today, the now non-existent website could have proven how right he was.
Jaffor Bhai was a talented person with many creative interests. He wrote primarily on Bangladeshi and US politics emphasizing on the danger of the growth of radical Islam. He also worked on a major project like translating Kalidas in collaboration with Dr. Joanna Kirkpatrick, visible at http://www.asianart.com/articles/ricksha/biography.html Photography was his great passion. Music was another area of interest. He was involved in their family business, a music recording studio named Jhankar located in the Bangladesh's capital Dhaka. In his home in Louisiana he spent many hours recording and archiving classical Western and Eastern music. It is quite difficult to find anybody like Jaffor Bhai.
Last time I met Jaffor Bhai in person was in July 2010. He came to our house with his wife and all his children. We had a splendid time where we reminisced the unforgettable episodes of political activism on the Internet.
In this time of living dangerously, Jaffor Bhai will be missed very much. He was indeed the brightest icon of secular activism among expatriate Bangladeshis.