Who was Prof Rezaul Karim? | The Daily Star
08:45 PM, April 23, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 08:56 PM, April 23, 2016

Who was Prof Rezaul Karim?

Professor AFM Rezaul Karim Siddiquee, a teacher of English literature at Rajshahi University whom unknown assailants hacked to death this morning, loved to play Sitar. It had always been his greatest fascination since the beginning of his life, says the slain professor’s son Riyasat Imtiaz Sourav quoting his grandfather.

“How could you lose your best friend? Can you say who killed your friend?” Sourav murmured as he held his father’s favourite sitar in his right hand, and it seemed as if he was talking to a human being, reports our correspondent.

“He never went to bed without playing sitar even for at least 15 minutes. Whenever, I felt bored or disgusted about anything, my father would start playing sitar and my mind would automatically feel better. Who will play sitar for me now?” said Rizwana Hasin Swatavi, daughter of Prof Siddiquee, while talking to The Daily Star with teary eyes and a heavy heart.

“My father was a man of peace, how could someone kill him?” Swatavi continued.

Like Swatavi and Sourav, the neighbours could not accept his untimely departure from this world in this manner either.

Swatavi said her father has become a memory now, like the black and white photograph of her father she held which was hanging from the wall of his bedroom.

The lungi he wore the previous night was still lying on his bed. The mosquito net and his quilt were also still there. Some of Prof Siddiquee’s musical instruments, including an ektara, a harmonium, and a pair of dugi-tabla could be seen underneath the bed from a side.  

There are two showcases of books in the room. On the western wall hangs a framed picture of a bird.

Rezaul Karim Siddiquee was part of a cultural group called ‘Komolgandhar’ where Naeem Imtiaz, a fourth year student of English Department, is a member. He said Prof Rezaul Karim’s room no 227 of Shahidullah Kala Bhaban was a cultural gathering place.

Other cultural activists also often used the room. It was not cleaned after Pahela Baishakh, he also said, adding that he still has the key to the room.

The slain professor was the editor and publisher of a small newspaper from Komolgandhar organisation, where students used to write and its sixth edition came out recently, Naeem further said.

Hasan Raja, section officer of Rajshahi University and director of poetry society ‘Sundaram’, said Prof Siddiquee used to play sitar and arranged seasonal cultural shows. He was a very peace loving man and never hurt religious sentiment of anyone with his written words. He was very conscious about it. He was also a politically neutral person.

Prof Rezaul Karim Siddiquee was the eldest among five siblings born to Abul Kashem, a retired assistant director of Primary Education Department. His home village is in Dorgamaria of Bhabaniganj municipality in Bagmara upazila of Rajshahi. All the four siblings of Abul Kashem are public servants. 

Jahanara Begum, head mistress of Dorgamaria Govt Primary School and also sister of the slain professor, said her brother used to visit his village often. He celebrated festivals with children, and roamed around here and there to collect folk elements and pictures.

According to villagers, Prof Siddiquee was a cultural and open-minded person. He established a music school for children in the village, where he paid for the salary of the music teacher himself, said Raju Ahmed, director of the music school.

He used to organise kite fair and other sports in the village and paid for prize for the winners out of his own pocket. He visited the village on Pahela Baishakh. He always kept in touch with villagers over mobile phone, said Monsir Rahman, a neighbour of Prof Siddiquee.

The villagers also said that Siddiquee played a vital role behind building a mosque in the village as he paid for its construction, adding that he also donated to a madrasa beside his house.

He used to go to religious functions, said his cousin Jebunnesa, also a member of Rajshahi District Unit of Awami League.

Shafiqul Islam, a student of the slain professor, was found shedding tears in his bed room. Many others are already protesting at Rajshahi University campus demanding the arrest and punishment of the perpetrators. This is how his students are trying to express their unconditional love towards their teacher. 

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