Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Hasina remembers ‘brother’ Ashraf falling on hard times in London

  • Parliament Correspondent,
    Published: 2019-01-31 05:09:20 BdST


Sheikh Hasina has commemorated Syed Ashraful Islam recalling the days when they had worked together before her return to Bangladesh.

Even after falling on hard times, Syed Ashraf had accompanied her to organise the Awami League and Juba League in London in 1980, the prime minister told parliament during a discussion on a condolence motion on Wednesday.

It was the first day of the first session of the 11th parliament. Public Administration Minister Syed Ashraf died four days after being re-elected MP in the Dec 30 general election. 

“I was like an elder sister to him. We had to pass the days in great difficulty after losing our loved ones in 1975,” Hasina said about Syed Ashraf, referring to the Aug 15 massacre of Bangabandhu’s family and Nov 4 jail killing that year.

“He had passed such difficult times that sometimes he had no money to buy food in London. He had to work and do politics at the same time there,” she said.

Recalling a day in her sister Sheikh Rehana’s home in London, the prime minister said Syed Ashraf called and said he had been craving for a Bengali meal at her home.

“He said, ‘Apa, I haven’t had any food from home for a long time. I asked him to come over right away. But he was so simple that he said, ‘Apa, how can I come? I don’t have train fare’,” Hasina recalled.   

“I then asked him to manage a trip. He used to ask me for things as he would ask his elder sister. He was so close to me that I treated him as my own brother,” she added. 

Hasina’s brother Sheikh Kamal and Syed Ashraf did politics together, Hasina said. “That’s why I treated him differently." 

She also remembered Syed Ashraf, a former general secretary of the Awami League, for his honesty, knowledge and political wit.

The role he played during the 2007-08 military-controlled caretaker government contributed to restoration of democracy as well, Hasina said.

She also extended sympathy to Syed Ashraf’s daughter Reema Islam, who lost her mother Sheila Islam to cancer in 2017, and his siblings.