• Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019
  • Last Update : 09:11 pm

Tearful goodbye to Syed Ashraf

  • Published at 11:00 am January 6th, 2019
Syed Ashraf janaza
The first namaz-e-janaza of Syed Ashraful Islam was held at the South Plaza of Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban on January 6, 2018 PID

The former Awami League general secretary has been laid to rest at Banani Graveyard

Former Awami League general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam, who passed away in a Bangkok hospital on Thursday while undergoing treatment, has been laid to rest in Dhaka.

The public administration minister of the previous Cabinet was buried at the city’s Banani Graveyard at 4pm on Sunday, after Asr prayers following a third namaz-e-janaza at the Anjuman Eidgah grounds in Mymensingh.

His second janaza was held at the Sholakia Eidgah Maidan in Kishoreganj a little after 12:30pm.

Nearly 400,000 people, including people of Kishoreganj, central and local Awami League leaders and activists, and well-wishers,attended the janaza to pray for the eternal peace of Syed Ashraf’s soul.

Before the funeral prayers, the local administration gave the 1971 freedom fighter a guard of honour.

Nearly 400,000 people attend a namaz-e-janaza of Syed Ashraful Islam at the Sholakia Eidgah Maidan in Kishoreganj on Sunday, January 6, 2019 | Dhaka Tribune

After the janaza, people of all walks of life paid their last respects to the veteran politician in an emotionally charged ceremony.

Earlier in the day, the first funeral prayer was held at the South Plaza of Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban in Dhaka around 10:30am. 

President Md Abdul Hamid took part in that janaza while Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, along with other senior female leaders of the Awami League, were present at the Parliament Building premises.

Syed Ashraf’s body was flown from Dhaka to Kishoreganj via helicopter for the second janaza around 12:30pm. Later, the remains were taken to Mymensingh for the third janaza.

From there, the body was flown back to the capital and laid to rest at the Banani graveyard after the Asr prayers in the afternoon.

Syed Ashraf passed away at Bumrungrad International Hospital’s Critical Care Medicine Unit in Bangkok around 9:45pm BdST.

Suffering from stage four lung-cancer the 68-year-old was undergoing treatment in Bangkok for the past few months.

Political career

Syed Ashraf was the eldest son of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s close associate and national leader Syed Nazrul Islam, who served as acting president of Bangladesh during the 1971 Liberation War.

Last Wednesday, Syed Ashraf had sent a letter to the speaker of the parliament, asking for more time to take his oath of office as the Kishoreganj 1 MP. The speaker on Thursday administered oath to 289 newly elected lawmakers of the 11th parliament.

Family members and Awami League leaders help in the process to bury Syed Ashraful Islam in his grave at the Banani Graveyard in Dhaka on Sunday, January 6, 2019 | Focus Bangla 

Even though he was absent before and during the 11th general election, held on December 30, Syed Ashraf had emerged the winner from that constituency.

He was elected MP from Kishoreganj 1 five times in the years 1996, 2001, 2008, 2014 and 2018.

He took leave of absence from the House on September 18, before leaving for Bangkok to receive treatment.

Syed Ashraf had steered the Awami League when it plunged into a crisis in 2007 during the regime of the military-controlled caretaker government.

Later in 2009, he was made general secretary of the party. After he served in that position in two consecutive terms, Sheikh Hasina made him a member of the party’s Presidium.

Family members carry veteran lawmaker Syed Ashraful Islam's  body to the  South Plaza of Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban for namaz-e-janaza on January 6, 2019 | Syed Zakir Hossain/ Dhaka Tribune

Syed Ashraf’s wife Sheila Islam died of cancer at a London hospital on October 22 last year. He has been suffering from illness since then.

He was made LGRD and Cooperatives Minister when the Awami League formed the government after the 2008 general election. He was given charge of the same ministry after the party won the 2014 polls.

Syed Ashraf was, however, removed from that ministry on July 9, 2015 and made a minister without portfolio. A week later, he was made the public administration minister.