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B'desh gripped by gloom over president's death
Publication Date : 22-03-2013
A little over four years ago, Bangabhaban – the official residence of Bangladesh’s presidents - was decorated to welcome him as the nation’s guardian. There was celebration; people from different walks of life stood up with smiles to greet the veteran politician ZillurRahman had been. Yesterday, they were there again, this time to bid him farewell.
Draped in a national flag and placed in a car decorated with flowers, Rahman’s body reached Bangabhaban at 1pm. Members of the armed forces offered a guard of honourshortly after the body arrived.
After his first namaz-e-janaza, or funeral prayers, are held at Haji Asmat College in Kishoreganjtoday, Rahman’s body will then be flown to Bangabhaban where envoys of different countries, representing their heads of state and heads of government, and other diplomats will pay tributes to the president.
The second janaza will take place at the JatiyaEidgahMaidanlater in the day, before Rahmanis laid to rest beside his wife Ivy Rahman’s grave at the Banani graveyard.
The 84-year-old politician had passed away at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore on Wednesday. A public holiday had been declared in Bangladesh yesterday, as part of a three-day mourning.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasinaof the ruling Awami League (AL) was among those present to pay tribute to Rahman. She told journalists that the country had lost a guardian, and that “words could not describe” what she herself and her sister Sheikh Rehana had lost.
“He passed away exactly when his leadership was needed the most,” Hasina said, “He was capable of handling any situation. He led the party during the toughest of times and saved democracy.”
Hasina, also the AL chief, said: “He was acceptable to all even though we [AL] elected him as president. I used to see him for all kinds of political advice and decisions. I don’t have that anymore.”
Accompanied by senior party leaders, chief of the opposition, the Bangladeshi Nationalist Party (BNP),Khaleda Zia also paid her last tribute to the president at Bangabhaban. She also talked to the bereaved family members of Zillur and consoled them.
Hasina was present when Zia went to Bangabhaban, but the two did not talk, witnesses told The Daily Star.
BNP acting secretary general Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the vacuum created by Rahman’s death could not be easily filled.
Rahman was born on March 9, 1929 in Bhairab. He took office as the 19th president of Bangladesh on 12 February 2009, after being elected unopposed.
His wife Ivy Rahman, also a politician,had died in the Aug 21, 2004 grenade attacks on an AL rally in Dhaka.