Rajonuddin Jalal

Rajonuddin Jalal was born in East Pakistan in 1959 and came to the UK at the age of 12 with his father, mother and younger brother. They settled in Birmingham where his father had a job in manufacturing.  When his parents returned to Sylhet, about 2 years later, Jalal and his brother moved to East London to stay with cousins.

Rajonuddin Jalal was born in 1959 in Sylhet, East Pakistan. He came to the UK in 1972 aged 12 with his parents and a younger brother. His father was already in the UK and worked in the manufacturing industry in Birmingham. His older siblings stayed in Sylhet as they were over 18. The family were active supporters of the freedom fighters during the War of Liberation in 1971.

Jalal went to a language school in Birmingham but after about a year his mother returned to Sylhet. His father too returned due to ill health. Jalal, aged nearly 14, and his younger brother came to East London to stay with relatives. Jalal went briefly to a school in Bow but the environment was hostile – he was beaten up several times and he did not have enough English to cope with the demands of school work. He worked in the clothing industry, including when he was at school to subsidise his keep.

Jalal became a central figure in youth activism against the National Front, He was secretary of the Bangladesh Youth Movement and was the only young person who spoke at the rally against the murder of Altab Ali in Hyde Park 1978. This was part of a huge mobilisation to demand police protection of the Bangladeshi community against racial attacks. Jalal later became secretary of the Federation of Bangladesh Youth Organisations and was the first Bangladeshi councillor in Tower Hamlets. As a mature student, and after securing ‘O; and ‘A’ levels he gained a degree and post graduate diploma in management studies. He has had a range of posts in both community work and the public sector.

Jalal went back to Bangladesh 5 years after he came here and still has strong personal and professional links to the country. He now lives in Ilford and is unlikely to return to live in Bangladesh full time as he has children here in the UK.


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