Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Abdur Razzak passes away

Veteran Awami League leader Abdur Razzak, one of the key organisers of Bangladesh’s Liberation War in 1971, breathed his last at a London hospital yesterday, thus bringing a 50-year illustrious career in politics to a close. He was 69.
Razzak, who was considered a “living history” of the birth of Bangladesh, was suffering from kidney and liver ailments and had been undergoing treatment at King’s College Hospital in London since September.
He had been kept on life support for three days before the end came. Doctors withdrew his life support yesterday when it became clear that there was little hope of recovery once he had gone into a deep coma. He died at 9:46pm Bangladesh time.
A pall of gloom and grief descended on senior AL leaders, noted politicians and his well-wishers and admirers as soon as news of his passing reached Bangladesh.
President Zillur Rahman, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Opposition Leader Khaleda Zia expressed their deep sense of shock at his death.
The eminent political leader left behind his wife, two sons, and a host of friends, followers, well-wishers and admirers to mourn his death.
Talking to The Daily Star, many senior politicians remarked that Razzak’s death was the “fall of a star” from Bangladesh’s political firmament.
His body will arrive in Dhaka at 11:00am tomorrow, the senior information officer of the civil aviation ministry has said.
Born on August 1, 1942, Razzak, who served as water resources minister in the Awami League government between 1996 and 2001, entered politics when he was a student. He was elected secretary of the Fazlul Haq Hall Students Union of Dhaka University in 1963.
A versatile, charismatic leader noted for his dynamic organising abilities, he subsequently emerged as a popular parliamentarian, and served in the party and government in different positions for a considerable period of time.
Abdur Razzak was among the young crop of politicians who were to make significant contributions to the 1971 Liberation War. Prior to that he was actively involved with and played a vital role in the Six Point movement of 1966 and the mass upsurge of 1969.
Following liberation, Razzak was closely linked with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and was never to waver in his loyalty to the principles of the Father of the Nation.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, Razzak’s participation in the movement against HM Ershad’s autocratic rule was vibrant. As a freedom fighter, he was ever vocal in raising the demand for the trial of the war criminals of 1971.
“He served the party in different positions and was very much sincere in carrying out his responsibilities,” said senior AL leader Amir Hossain Amu, who first met Razzak in 1961 and became close to him over the years.
He served twice as AL general secretary, besides serving the party as organising secretary. Razzak was also an influential presidium member of the party.
He was twice general secretary of Bangladesh Chhatra League. Earlier in 1967, he served the East Pakistan Chhatra League as its general secretary.
Razzak was elected a member of the provincial assembly (MPA) in 1970. After the emergence of Bangladesh in 1971, he was elected member of parliament in 1973, 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2008.
At the ninth parliamentary election in 2008, he was elected from Shariatpur-3 constituency. Till his passing away, he had been serving as chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the water resources ministry.
Razzak was one of the four sector commanders of Mujib Bahini during the War of Liberation. He also organised the training of freedom fighters.
In the course of his political career, Abdur Razzak was arrested numerous times and served time as a political prisoner. The first time he was sent to jail was during 1964-65 in the Ayub Khan era. Later, he was imprisoned from 1967 to 1969 for participating in the Six Point Movement.
After the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975, Razzak was arrested again along with several other followers of Bangabandhu. He was jailed again in 1987 by the Ershad military regime.
Razzak did his MA in political science from Dhaka University in 1964 and LLB in 1967 from the same university.
He quit Awami League in 1983 and formed Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (BAKSAL). He became the presidium member of AL in 1992 when the two parties merged.
“He [Razzak] was very popular among his followers. When he was involved in Chhatra League politics, thousands of activists of the student body were his fans and he enjoyed a similar reputation when he was in Awami League politics,” said AL leader Tofail Ahmed.
Tofail, who was very close to Razzak, said that the popular leader led a simple life.
“He seldom stayed at home. Instead, he travelled across the country to organise the party,” Tofail said, adding that Razzak had never been defeated in an election.
AL Presidium Member Matia Chowdhury said the people of Bangladesh had lost a leader groomed by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
AL Presidium Member Obaidul Quader said, “We have lost a politician who practised value-based politics throughout his life.”
Razzak was one of those leaders who had played a significant role in organising the AL after the assassination of Bangabandhu on August 15, 1975, Quader added.
AL Joint General Secretary Mahbub Alam Hanif termed Razzak’s demise a “loss for the nation and also the party”.

-With The Daily Star input

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