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Senior Awami League leader Mohammed Nasim dies at 72

He was on life support after undergoing a brain surgery on June 5

Update : 13 Jun 2020, 11:33 AM

Senior Awami League leader and former minister Mohammed Nasim has died while being treated at a hospital in Dhaka.

The 72-year-old breathed his last around 11am on Saturday at the Bangladesh Specialized Hospital, Awami League Office Secretary Barrister Biplob Barua told the Dhaka Tribune.

Nasim, who sat on the ruling party’s policymaking Presidium, was kept on life support after undergoing surgery following a brain hemorrhage.

He leaves behind his wife and three children.

President Md Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed their condolences over the death of the veteran politician.

Describing his death as an irreparable loss for the nation, the president said in a message, “He was a fearless fighter in the country’s struggle of independence and Liberation War. Being elected an MP for five times showed he was loved by the people.”  

Prime Minister and Awami League President Hasina said in her message, “Just like his father, Mohammed Nasim has served the nation, in line with the ideology of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, until his death.”

Bangladesh has lost a patriot and a leader of the people, she said before adding “And I lost a trusted comrade.”

Nasim’s father, M Mansur Ali, who served in the 1971 war-time government, was among the four national leaders killed inside the Dhaka Central Jail in November 1975, two and a half months after the assassination of Bangabandhu.

Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader, Jatiya Party GM Quader and BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir condoled the former minister’s death.

Nasim, who served Hasina in four different cabinet roles, was admitted to the hospital on June 1 with Covid-19 symptoms, including fever and cold. His tests came back as positive later. 

Four days later, on June 5, he was rushed into surgery after suffering a stroke. He was kept on life support since then. A second test of his samples came back as negative, but his condition continued to deteriorate. 

The five-time lawmaker had been suffering from various complications, including diabetes before testing positive for coronavirus infection. He had also suffered a stroke before.

File Photo: Mohammed Nasim served Sheikh Hasina in four different cabinet roles | Collected

Nasim will be buried in the capital’s Banani graveyard on Sunday, according to the family.

“The Namaz-e-Janaza (funeral prayer) will be held at 10.30am at the Banani graveyard mosque before the burial. The mortal remains will not be taken to Sirajganj to avoid mass gathering amid the Covid-19 pandemic,” his son Tanvir Shakil Joy told the media at the hospital.

A life in politics

Born to M Mansur Ali and Amena Mansur in Sirajganj’s Kazipur on April 2, 1948, Nasim represented the Sirajganj constituency for a fifth term.

He was brought up at the Pabna district town, where his father practiced law. Sirajganj was a part of the greater Pabna district then.

After clearing the matriculation exams in 1965, Nasim went to the Edward College in Pabna and took to politics. He was a member of the then Communist Party's student wing Chhatra Union.

During his college days, Nasim met Laila Arjumand Bithi, also a Chhatra Union activist, and married her later.

In 1966, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman went to Pabna for a rally to garner support for the historic Six-Point demand.

Following the rally, Bangabandhu went to Mansur Ali’s residence, where some leaders of Chhatra League told him that Nasim was a member of the Chhatra Union.

Bangabandhu spoke to Nasim and requested him to attend an event of Chhatra League, following which Nasim joined the student body, backed by the Awami League.

In 1967, Nasim was elected the literary and cultural affairs secretary of the Edward College students’ union . He was the only candidate floated by the Chhatra League to clinch a seat in the union. 

In 1969, Nasim moved to Dhaka and went to Jagannath College (now the Jagannath University) for his bachelor's degree in Political Science.

After the war broke out in 1971, Nasim worked with the wartime Mujibnagar administration, where his father Mansur Ali served as a cabinet member. 

Nasim was part of the government's wing that was in charge of aid efforts for refugees and recruitment of freedom fighters.

In an independent Bangladesh, Nasim served as the general secretary of the Awami League’s Pabna district unit. 

During the first national election of 1973, he sought the Awami League’s nomination, but Bangabandhu gave the party ticket to Abdur Rob Boga Mia, a senior leader in Pabna.

The same year, Nasim was made a presidium member of the Jubo League, which was founded by Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni.

In 1975 when Bangabandhu formed BAKSHAL, Nasim was appointed the general secretary of its Pabna unit.

Following the August 15 assassination of Bangabandhu, Nasim fled to India and was imprisoned after returning.

 File photo of senior Awami League leader and former minister Mohammed Nasim | Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka TribuneNasim, who has been a part of the Awami League’s central body since 1982, has served the party as its youth affairs secretary, publicity affairs secretary, organizing secretary before serving in the policymaking presidium .

He was elected an MP five times, in 1986, 1996, and 2001, 2014, and 2018. Nasim couldn’t contest the 2008 polls due to legal issues as well as for health complications. 

In the 1996 Sheikh Hasina-led government, Nasim served as a cabinet member. He was first given the portfolio of post and telecommunications and was later put in charge of housing and public works as well.

He dealt with the two ministries until March 1999, after which he was made the home minister. In the 2014 Awami League-administration, he served as the health minister. 

When Hasina formed the government for a straight third term after the 2018 elections, Nasim was not included in the council of ministers.

He continued to serve the party as a presidium member and also as the coordinator of the Awami League-led coalition, the14-party Alliance until his death. 

He headed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Food in the 11th National Parliament.

Nasim played an important role in the movement against the 2001 BNP-Jamaat Alliance government. He was imprisoned by the military-backed 2007-08 caretaker administration.

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