The university had allegedly decided to name the medical centre after businessman AK Azad, who is sponsoring the building's construction
After demands raised from several Dhaka University (DU) teachers and family members of a martyred doctor, who lost his life during the liberation war of 1971, the DU authorities have finally named its medical centre after him.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, DU Vice-Chancellor (VC) Prof Akhtaruzzaman said that the medical centre would be named as “Shaheed Dr Mohammad Mortuza Medical Centre.”
The DU Syndicate, the highest governing body of the university, took the decision on May 24, stepping back from its February 28 decision of naming it after an industrialist.
Earlier, businessman AK Azad sent a “conditional” approach letter under the letterhead of Ha-meem group, saying he wanted to build a four-storey medical centre with a foundation of six floors for DU officials and students, on condition that the building was named after him.
Azad, the DU Alumni Association president, is managing director of Ha-meem Group -- one of the largest Bangladeshi conglomerates in the textile and garments sector.
The DU registrar accepted the letter on February 22. It was presented at the Syndicate meeting on February 28.
Following the meeting, on March 11, a letter was sent by the chief engineer of DU notifying AK Azad that the DU syndicate body had accepted the proposal and the medical centre would be named after him.
However, a number of DU teachers opposed the decision. Among them was Pro-VC (Administration) Prof Muhammad Samad, who wrote to the VC stating that Azad had been given permission illegally by the chief engineer. He requested the DU VC to rescind the decision.
On March 26, Saida Mortuza, Dr Mohammad Mortuza’s wife, wrote to the prime minister requesting her to take a step in naming the facility after her husband Mortuza, who was chief medical officer of the university during the War of Liberation.
He was killed two days before liberation on December 14, 1971, a day now observed as Martyred Intellectuals Day.
Prompt measures were taken by the DU authorities following the letter written by the martyr’s wife to the prime minister. Multiple DU syndicate members claimed that the DU VC proposed Dr Mortuza’s name on May 24 following “an instruction” from a government high official.
DU VC Akhtaruzzaman said: “Our different structures are named after martyred intellectuals. We have a tradition of naming our structures in this way. Recently the issue surfaced and we took this decision [of naming the building after Dr Mortuza].”
When asked about the reason behind stepping back from the decision of naming the medical centre after AK Azad, the VC said: “The name of DU Medical Centre is yet to be changed. Some people, including DU officials, have tried to create a controversy around this issue. Earlier, a decision was taken, only regarding giving recognition to AK Azad for constructing the building, not naming it after him.”
Saida Mortuza and Dr Mortuza had been married for four and a half years when he was abducted and murdered in December 1971. She is a retired deputy librarian of the Institute of Education and Research of DU.
She told Dhaka Tribune that she had heard about the new naming, adding that her brilliant husband (first boy at Calcutta Medical College) had dedicated his life for his countrymen despite having the opportunity to move abroad.
“He always said that name and fame did not matter, that what mattered was our good work,” Saida Mortuza said, quoting her martyred husband.
She thanked the prime minister as well as the teachers concerned who wanted to name the medical centre in the name of her late husband.