Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday urged affluent people to dedicate themselves to the cause of nation following the footprints of philanthropist RP Shaha as she handed over the Danveer Ranada Prasad Shaha Smarak Gold Medal to four national celebrities.
‘Ranada Prasad Shaha set an example in serving human beings,’ she told the award ceremony held at the green lawn of Kumudini Complex at Mirzapur in Tangail in the afternoon.
She added: ‘There are many rich people in our country and if they follow in his footsteps, the ordinary people would no longer suffer.’
Hasina appreciated with respect the enormous philanthropic activities of Shaha, more known as RP Shaha, in Mirzapur which had been a remote area during his time.
Legendary politician and erstwhile Pakistan’s prime minister Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam were posthumously honoured with the award while the other two recipients were 1952 language movement veteran national professor Rafiqul Islam and eminent painter Sahabuddin Ahmed.
Founder president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s younger daughter Sheikh Rehana received the gold medal from Hasina on behalf of Suhrawardy. Sheikh Rehana was also a special guest at the ceremony.
Poet Nazrul’s granddaughter Khilkhil Kazi received the medal on behalf of the national poet.
Professor Rafiqul Islam and painter Sahabuddin Ahmed received the award the medal from the prime minister.
A businessperson by background, Shaha earned the reputation of a leading Bengali philanthropist and founded educational institutions, including the Bharateswari Homes and the Kumudini College and Debendra College.
Shaha disappeared after Pakistani occupation forces picked him up during the liberation war.
She said that RP Shaha established the Kumudini Welfare Trust activities to serve humanity and promote women education, yielding organisations like the Kumudini Women Medical College and Kumudini Nursing School.
Hasina said that her door would always remain open for the Kumudini Welfare Trust in their endeavour to serve the cause of the nation’s wellbeing.
Chairman and managing director of the trust Razib Prasad Shaha presided over the function while its director education and 1952 language veteran Protiva Mutsuddi also spoke at the ceremony.
Trust director Srimoti Shaha delivered the welcome address while local parliament member Ekabbar Hossain was present on the dais.
Agriculture minister Md Abdur Razzaque, education minister Dipu Moni, state minister for health and family welfare Murad Hasan, parliament members, secretaries to the prime minister and other dignitaries were present.
A documentary on 86 years’ journey of the Kumudini Welfare Trust was screened at the function where the Bharateswari Homes students staged a spectacular physical display.
Hasina appreciated the Kumudini Welfare Trust for giving the Danveer Ranada Prasad Shaha Smarak Gold Medal to four eminent personalities, including legendary political leader and former prime minister of erstwhile Pakistan Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy (posthumous).
In this context, she said that Rashid Suhrawardy, the only son of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, was very happy to hear of his father’s nomination for the gold medal and had expressed his desire to receive it personally.
‘It is very unfortunate that Rashid Suhrawardy died a few days back,’ she said.
Recalling her first visit to Kumudini, Hasina said, ‘I came in 1956 or 1957 with my father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and mother Begum Fazilatunnesa.’
‘While visiting the place, my father became overwhelmed to see the scenario of the area and expressed his desire to have me enrolled at Kumudini,’ she said.
‘His dream could not be fulfilled as my father was arrested soon after declaration of the martial law in 1958,’ she continued.
She mentioned that she was emotionally touched with the memory of RP Shaha’s family, saying, ‘The eldest daughter of RP Shaha came to our house and brought us food after the assassination of my father and most of my family members on August 15 in 1975.’
She also recalled her visit RP Shaha’s house in Old Dhaka’s Sadarghat.
Remembering the killings of RP Shaha and his son Bhabani Prasad Shaha by Pakistani occupation forces on May 7 during the liberation war in 1971, she said that she knew the pain of losing near ones as she had lost most of her family members including her father, mother and brothers except for her sister Sheikh Hasina on August 15 in 1975.
She reiterated her firm commitment to build Bangladesh as a developed and prosperous country by freeing it from hunger and poverty.
She said, ‘I will be the happiest person when I will be able to complete the unfinished tasks of my father by building the Golden Bengal he had dreamt of.’
Earlier in the morning, Sheikh Hasina opened 14 development projects and laid the foundation stones of 17 other schemes by unveiling their plaques from the Kumudini Complex.
She also laid the foundation stones of Bharateswari Homes Multipurpose Hall and the Institute of Post Graduate Nursing Complex on the Kumudini Complex.
The prime minister later visited the Kumudini Hospital.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Country