An Ekushey Padak winner and retired Dhaka University physics teacher, Prof Ajoy Roy breathed his last at the intensive care unit of the capital’s Birdem Hospital at 12:35pm yesterday.
He was 84 and had been suffering from old-age complications.
The renowned academician was the father of writer-blogger Avijit Roy, who was brutally stabbed to death on the Dhaka University campus on February 26, 2015. The attack was carried out after Avijit and his wife Rafida Ahmed Bonya came out of the Amar Ekushey Boi Mela. Bonya suffered injuries when she tried to protect her husband.
Prof Ajoy, who was a plaintiff of the murder case, could not see justice for his son’s killing.
On November 25, he was admitted to the Birdem hospital with fever and breathing problem. He was later shifted to the hospital’s ICU as his condition deteriorated, Brig Gen (retd) Shahidul Hoque Mallik, director of the hospital, told The Daily Star.
Best known for his prominent role in promoting human rights and freethinking, Prof Ajoy, a freedom fighter, had vented his anger on October 28 over the slow progress in the murder case.
He told a Dhaka court that he would not keep appearing before it for hearings anymore. “I am tired now,” he told the court on that day.
Before his death, Prof Ajoy donated his body to the hospital for research purposes. It will be taken to the Central Shaheed Minar premises and then to the DU campus today so that people could pay their last tribute to Prof Ajoy, said his cousin Binay Bsushan Barman.
As the news of the death spread, many rushed to the hospital yesterday to have a glimpse of Prof Ajoy.
In a condolence message, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed deep sympathy to the bereaved family.
Talking to The Daily Star, Shahriar Kabir, president of Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, a platform formed in 1992 to raise voice for the trial of war criminals, said, “Prof Ajoy Roy was the icon of the freethinking movement in Bangladesh. With his death, a vacuum has been created and the loss is irreparable”.
One of the founders of the Nirmul committee, Prof Ajoy also played a pivotal role in anti-fundamentalism movements and protecting human rights in the country, he said.
He also said it was a matter of great regret that the trial in Avijit murder case had not been completed yet.
Born on March 1, 1935 in Dinajpur, Prof Ajoy obtained his Honour’s and Master’s degrees from Dhaka University, and obtained his PhD in physical chemistry from Leeds University, England.
He joined as a teacher at the physics department in DU in 1959 and went into retirement in 2000. He was also a professor of University Grants Commission.
The veteran educationist participated in many progressive movements, including the Language Movement in 1952, 1969 Mass Upsurge, and Non-cooperation Movement. He joined the Liberation War in 1971.
During the war, Prof Ajoy was the general secretary of the teachers’ association. He mobilised opinions of Indian educationists against the atrocities of Pakistani occupation forces.
Founder of “Shikkkha Andolan Mancha” (a platform for education movement), Prof Ajoy was the editor-in-chief of Muktanwesa magazine, a Bengali publication for promoting freethinking.
He was the general secretary of the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
Prof Ajoy also played an active role in protecting victims when there was a wave of violence and oppression against the Hindu community in 2001. Besides, he worked for promoting the rights of the people of the Chattogram Hill Tracts.
He worked as a columnist in different national newspapers of Bangladesh.
Yesterday, different government, professional bodies, socio-cultural and rights organisations, including Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad and Ain o Salish Kendra, also expressed condolences to the family of Prof Ajoy.