Tuesday, June 6, 2023

What was Bangladesh’s most famous YouTuber Salahuddin Sumon doing in India?

Salahuddin Sumon, one of Bangladesh’s most famous YouTubers, was in India recently. But why? In an exclusive conversation with IndiaToday.in he tells his story and much more.

By Tiasa Bhowal: It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Salahuddin Sumon’s YouTube videos are in a way instrumental in bringing people of two Bengals closer, India and Bangladesh. Now, for those who do not know Salahuddin, he is one of the most famous YouTubers in Bangladesh, known for producing rich content about history, culture and travel. His content is not just limited to his place of birth, Bangladesh, but the journalist-turned-YouTuber likes to travel to India as well, partly due to his curiosity and majorly because of his zeal to give his viewers better and more in-depth content.

Now, a very important question that pops up here is, how does he have such a huge fan base in India, especially Bengal? For that, we need to dig a little deeper into history.

Very few people are aware of the political landscape that was prevalent in the 70s. India was already under a lot of turmoil because of the post-Independence tussle going on between the fledgling nations. Present Bangladesh was known as East Pakistan and the population consisted of both Hindus and Muslims. But due to a major exodus, a huge section of the Hindu population had to migrate to West Bengal during that time, leaving behind not just properties and houses, but friends and relatives too. Salahuddin’s content makes some people nostalgic, while for others it is just an insight into their ancestral land.

Salahuddin was in India recently where he travelled to states like Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. He was absolutely spellbound by the culture of the northeastern states.

“I visited Nagaland recently and I was mesmerised by the picturesque landscapes, people’s lifestyles as well as their stories of bravado. There is a small village in Nagaland which is called Khonoma. This was the only village which was not under British rule. The reason why Khonoma could never be occupied was the fact that Nagas are great fighters. So, whenever there was an attack, they could easily topple the British army. Moreover, the village is situated in a position which was advantageous for the people to fight off the British during their combat,” Salahuddin said while speaking at length about this small village and the courteous residents.

Speaking about his Assam tour, the YouTuber said, “When I went to Assam, I was moved by the welcome I received there. People are so courteous and never for a moment did anyone make me feel that I am from a different country visiting India. Never did they question me about my religion or caste. This is what I loved and I am glad that I am being able to show it to people through my channel.”

However, this wasn’t his first trip to India. Salahuddin visited West Bengal’s Murshidabad in September 2019. He took some time off work to come and go and visit the small city in West Bengal. Now, why Murshidabad of all places? This was the question his colleagues and friends asked when he told them about his trip to India. Well, the reason was to track down the descendants of Mir Jafar.

If you know about the Battle of Plassey in 1757, you will know that the defeat in this battle cost India its freedom for 200 years. The loss was majorly because Siraj ud-Daula, the last independent Nawab of Bengal, was betrayed by Mir Jafar, the commander of Nawab’s army.

Salahuddin wanted to track his descendants during the trip. Was he able to track someone from the family? Yes, he was but he denied identifying himself as Mir Jafar’s descendant (probably owing to the history that is associated with him). However, his neighbours confirmed the same. “When I broke this story on my YouTube channel, I garnered close to 70,000 subscribers overnight.”

“I have a good viewership in India and that is because a lot of people, especially the Bengali-speaking Indians, have an attraction towards Bangladesh. A lot of people want to know more about the country’s history, heritage and culture. The content on YouTube was more like travel blogs. The bloggers did not delve deep into the actual history of a particular place. After I started presenting the same location with its elaborate history, people from India were attracted to my content. A lot of Indians have relatives staying in different parts of Bangladesh. Some people even have their ancestral houses in this part. A lot of emotions are in play,” he said.

For Salahuddin, travelling to Arunachal Pradesh was like a ‘dream’ and now that he is back, he has been continually sharing videos from his trip on his channel. However, will he ever visit India again? Yes, he intends to come back to India soon. This time he wants to visit places like Chennai and Vellore where people from across the country throng to avail the superb medical facilities.

“A lot of people from Bangladesh travel to India for medical treatment. I myself have availed the medical facilities in India. I had already done a video on how you can avail the medical treatment in Chennai’s Apollo Hospital. Following this a lot of people have urged me to make more videos on the medical facilities available in India. So, I might visit Chennai or Vellore.”

“Another thing that I really want to work on is a little history-centric. I want to do something on the Bangladesh Liberation War. Though I cannot disclose everything now, but I can assure you that what I am working on is very exclusive and no one has ever ventured on those lines before,” the YouTuber smiled as he spilled the beans about his upcoming work.

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