Shahjahan Siraj, an organiser of the struggle and the war for the independence of Bangladesh and who read out the manifesto of independence at the Paltan Maidan in Dhaka on March 3, 1971, died at a Dhaka hospital on Tuesday.
He was 77.
Shahjahan, also a former Bangladesh Nationalist Party vice-chairman and minister, is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.
BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said that Shahjahan died at Evercare Hospital in the capital at about 3:30pm.
Born on March 1, 1943 at Kalihati under Tangail to Abdul Gani Mia and Rahima Begum, Shahjahan was elected lawmaker four times from Tangail and served as a minister of the BNP government during its 2001–06 tenure.
The BNP leader’s son-in-law Omar Shahdat, a Supreme Court lawyer, told New Age that his body would be taken to his village home on Wednesday and his first namaj-e-janaja would be held at Shamsul Huq Mahabidyalay at Elenga of Kalihati upazila at 11:00am, second at Shahjahan Siraj College at Kalihati and the third at Gulshan Society Jame Masjid in Dhaka.
He will be buried at the Banani Graveyard after Esha prayers on Wednesday.
Omar said that Shahjahan had been suffering from cancer for long and was admitted to Evercare Hospital on Monday as he fell seriously sick.
Shahjahan joined student politics by way of his involvement in the student movement against Hamudur Rahman Shikkha Commission in 1962 and took part in the 1969 mass upsurge.
He was the general secretary of the undivided Chhatra League for the 1970–72 tenure and an activist of Swadhin Bangla Biplabi Parishad, better known as the Nucleus, and a leader of Swadhin Bangla Chhatra Sangram Parishad.
‘On March 3, 1971, Chhatra League general secretary Shahajahan Siraj read out the manifesto of the country’s independence in a mass rally at the Paltan Maidan in Dhaka. The declaration and programmes of independent and sovereign Bangladesh was published in that historic mass rally,’ Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal-JSD president ASM Abdur Rob, a comrade of Shahjahan in founding the JSD in 1972, said in a statement.
The JSD was formed on October 31, 1972 and Shahjahan became its founding assistant General Secretary and was elected the party’s president in eighties.
He became lawmaker for the Tangail-4 constituency thrice with JSD ticket and later joined the BNP in 1995.
Shahjahan was later elected lawmaker from the same constituency with BNP ticket and became a minister in the BNP-led government during 2001–06.
President Abdul Hamid, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Gono Forum president Dr Kamal Hossain, JSD president ASM Abdur Rob and Bangladesh National Awami Party chairman Jebel Rahman Gani and secretary general M Golam Mostafa Bhuiyan conveyed their deep shock at the death of Shahjahan, expressed condolences to his bereaved family members and prayed for the eternal peace of his departed soul.
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