Awami League stalwart and former Chittagong mayor ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury died yesterday, bringing an end to a decades-long, colourful political career.
Fondly called Chattal Bir (hero of Chattal, a corruption of Chittagong), the veteran politician died at a private hospital around 3:00am. He was 74.
His passing has cast a pall of gloom on the port city as hundreds of thousands of people, many in tears, gathered at his funeral prayers at Laldighi Maidan to bid him the final farewell and pay their last respects.
Soon after the news spread, condolences poured in from all quarters, including from President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Mohiuddin, who was president of Chittagong Awami League for over a decade, had been suffering from kidney and heart complications for some time.
He was taken to the private hospital on Thursday, two days after he was taken home from Square Hospital in Dhaka, said his son Chowdhury Mahibul Hasan Noufel, also organising secretary of the AL.
Earlier, Mohiuddin, a freedom fighter, was taken to Singapore for treatment on November 16 from where he returned to Bangladesh on November 26.
His body was taken to the Chittagong AL office around 2:30pm from his Chashma Hill residence in Sholoshohor.
He was given a guard of honour at the Laldighi Maidan.
The crowd there stretched from the Laldighi ground to Anderkilla to Cinema Palace to Kotwali intersection, covering about one kilometre radius.
He was later buried at his family graveyard in Chashma Hill after his second funeral prayers at Chashma Hill Jame Mosque after Maghrib prayers.
He left behind his wife and five children -- two sons and three daughters -- and a host of relatives and well-wishers to mourn his death. His wife Hasina Mohiuddin is president of Mohila Awami League in Chittagong.
Jatiya Sangsad Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, Health Minister Mohammed Nasim, Civil Aviation Minister Rashed Khan Menon, Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Huq, Science and Technology Minister Yafesh Osman Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor and Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh President AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury, among others, mourned his death.
A GLITTERING POLITICAL CAREER
Mohiuddin became mayor of the Chittagong City Corporation in 1994 and held the office for 17 years straight before being defeated by BNP candidate M Manjurul Alam in 2010.
He was made president of Chittagong city AL in 2006. Before that he was general secretary of the same unit for more than two decades.
Mohiuddin was born on December 1, 1944, at Gohira village of Raozan upazila in Chittagong in a well-known family. His father was Hosen Ahmen Chowdhury, a railway officer, and mother Bedowra Begum.
After his SSC in 1962, he got admitted to Chittagong City College but shifted to Chittagong Polytechnic Institute the same year. He was expelled from the Institute because of his involvement in active politics on the campus, according to his biography written by journalist Muazzem Haq and published in 2014.
He eventually did his HSC and graduation in 1965 and 1967 respectively from Chittagong City College. He later got admitted to Chittagong University for his master's in Islamic History and Culture, but dropped out.
He was into politics since his college years and was soon spotted by the then AL leader Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury.
From 1968 to 1969, he was the general secretary of the Chittagong district Chhatra League.
On March 1, 1971, Mohiuddin in collaboration with Sorbodolio Chhatra Sangram Parishad leaders enforced a strike in Chittagong and held a rally at Laldighi Maidan against the repression of the Pakistan government.
After the historical March 7, 1971, speech by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Mohiuddin and his fellows looted firearms and ammunition from Rifles Club and arms depot in Majhirghat area to make preparation for the Liberation War.
He was later arrested by the Pakistan army and sent to prison. Inside the Chittagong Jail, he pretended to be a lunatic, which prompted the occupation forces to release him.
He then went to India for guerrilla training and later joined the war as the platoon commander of East Mount Battalion.
Following the killing of Sheikh Mujib in 1975, he formed an armed resistance group called “Mujib Bahini” against the Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad government.
He was arrested for this but was soon released. He then fled to India.
He was also imprisoned during the tenure of the BNP government in 1995 and the last caretaker government in 2007.
Despite being from the ruling party, Mohiuddin opposed the government decision to hand over the operational charge of the Chittagong Port to Stevedoring Services of the US in 2003, when the AL was in power. He launched a tough movement that forced the government to eventually back away.
Recalling his illustrious political career, BNP Standing Committee Member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury said, “He protested many controversial decisions of the government ... and he stood against financial corruption in politics and he maintained good relations with his opponents.”