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Shaukat Osman was born in 1917 in West Bengal, son of a pious Muslim farmer and artisan. He taught in Calcutta until migrating to what was the Eastern wing of Pakistan after partition in 1947. His first major work was published in 1945, and since that time he has published over thirty volumes of fiction, drama, poetry and essays. Until his death in 1997, he was indisputably the most eminent writer in Bangladesh. His work throughout his writing career was marked by a resolute commitment to social progress and struggle against religious obscurantism and political oppression. His work brought into realistic literary focus the hitherto ignored lives of the rural peasantry and urban poor. In addition to The State Witness (Peepal Tree, 1993), his novel Janani, also translated by Osman Jamal, was published by Heinemann in the same year.