Wednesday, October 16, 2019

NAP chief Prof Mozzaffar Ahmad, who advised wartime government in exile, dies at 97

  • Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2019-08-23 20:54:21 BdST

bdnews24

National Awami Party President Professor Mozzaffar Ahmad (Pro-Moscow NAP), a member of the advisory council of the Liberation War-time government in exile, has died at a hospital in Dhaka.

The 97-year old politician breathed his last at the Apollo Hospitals in the capital around 7:50pm on Friday, a duty manager told bdnews24.com.

He had been put under intensive care at the hospital in a critical condition.

He was the only living advisor to the wartime government.

President Md Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina have led the tributes to the veteran politician in separate condolence messages.

Mozzaffar had been suffering from old-age complications for quite a few years. Hasina had announced to pay his medical expenses when he had been admitted to the hospital last year. He was put on life support at the time.

He was admitted to the hospital again on Aug 14 this year and transferred to the ICU five days later for problems related to coughing and blood pressure, NAP Joint General Secretary Ismail Hossain said.

NAP International Affairs Secretary Paritosh Debnath said Prof Mozzaffar’s mortal remains will be taken to the South Plaza of the parliament complex for a Namaz-e-Janaza at 11am on Saturday.

The body will be carried to the party office at Hawkers Market in Dhanmondi later and from there to the Central Shaheed Minar for the people to pay their last respects at noon.  

Another Namaz-e-Janaza will be held at Baitul Mukarram National Mosque after Zuhr prayers.

The body will be taken to his birthplace in Cumilla later and he will be buried in the family graveyard there on Sunday.

Mozzaffar, as one of the key organisers of the war in 1971, led the formation of a special guerrilla force with members of NAP, Communist Party and Students’ Union. The force fought the Pakistani troops in Dhaka, Narsingdi, Cumilla, Noakhali, Chattogram, Rangpur and many other places. 

He had also played a big role in building world opinion in favour of Bangladesh’s independence by taking part in UN General Assembly.

Mozzaffar left home on Mar 25 night in 1971 when fires were shot targeting his father’s home in the capital’s Kakrail. He then crossed the border into India and joined other Bangladeshi politicians in Agartala.

When a six-strong advisory council to the wartime government was formed with Tajuddin Ahmad as the convenor, Mozzaffar was kept in it as a member.

The government nominated the NAP chief for the highest civilian honour Swadhinata Padak or Independence Award in 2015, but he refused it. 

He had rejected a cabinet position too after independence in 1971.

Speaking to bdnews24.com after refusing the Independence Award four years ago, he said his politics has never been about such recognition as being a cabinet minister or recipient of an award.

“Politics is about serving the country and its people...Sheikh Mujib tried to give me a number of positions or titles, but I refused," he told bdnews24.com.

"I am a follower of Mahatma Ghandhi and Mawlana [Abdul Hamid Khan] Bhashani.”

“Patriotism and humanitarianism were all that encouraged me to join politics, not the lure of any award or recognition," he said.

"Those who truly fought the Liberation War did not expect anything in return.”

Born on Apr 14, 1922 at Elahabad village in Cumilla’s Debidwar, Mozzaffar graduated from Dhaka University and received masters degree in economics. He also held a UNESCO diploma.

His wife Amina Ahmad, a member of the NAP presidium, was an MP nominated by the ruling Awami League from the seats reserved for women in 2008. They have a daughter.

He taught economics in Chittagong Government College, Dhaka College and Dhaka University later.

Prof Mozzaffar played a big role in organising the 1952 Language Movement when he was a Dhaka University teacher. He left the job two years later and took to active politics. He won a seat in Cumilla’s Debidwar in the general elections that year as a Jukta Front candidate.

He was the first to propose East Pakistan’s autonomy in the Provincial Assembly on Apr, 1957. He later took part in all the movements, including Six Point, towards the independence of Bangladesh from Pakistan.

When the communist movement across the world split into pro-China and pro-Soviet Union forces by the end of the 60s, Mawlana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani’s NAP got divided and Prof Mozzaffar became president of the East Pakistan unit of the pro-Moscow faction.