Sahara to be laid to rest today | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 11, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:06 AM, July 11, 2020

Sahara to be laid to rest today

She passed away at a Thai hospital Thursday night

Sahara Khatun was a key figure among those who led the Awami League during difficult times and who remained by the side of party chief Sheikh Hasina through thick and thin for decades.

The former home minister and a presidium member of Awami League, who died at a hospital in Thailand on Thursday night, will be buried at the capital's Banani graveyard today.

Her body will be flown back to Dhaka in the early hours.

The 77-year-old lawmaker from Dhaka-18 passed away at Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok at 11:25pm (local time).

She was taken to Bangkok on Monday by an air ambulance.

On June 2, the three-time MP was admitted to the United Hospital with fever and complications associated with old age. She was later taken to the ICU of the hospital as her condition deteriorated.

President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in separate messages expressed profound shock at her death.

Abdul Hamid said Sahara's death was an irreparable loss as she was a tested AL leader at its tough time.

Sheikh Hasina in her condolence message said Sahara dedicated her life for reestablishing democracy and realising people's rights as a combatant of Bangabandhu's principle.

"Sahara Khatun always remained beside the party's leaders and workers and provided all support, including legal aid services during the crisis," said the PM.

"The country and nation have lost a competent and honest woman leader. And I have lost a tested and trusted co-fighter."

Sahara Khatun was born in Dhaka's Kurmitola on March 1, 1943.  Her parents were Abdul Aziz and Turjan Nesa.

She completed Bachelor of Arts and LLB degrees and became a lawyer.

Sahara engaged in politics in her student life. She was the former law secretary of the AL.

She entered national politics in 1991, when she contested in the fifth parliamentary election as an Awami League candidate. She was defeated by BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia.

In the 2008 parliamentary election, she came to the limelight following the arrest of then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina.

Sahara was one of the forefront fighters as a lawyer involved in the legal battle and also on the streets to free Sheikh Hasina.

She became the victim of the military-backed 1/11 government.

In the 2008 national election, Sahara became an MP for the first time from Dhaka-18 constituency.

Giving surprise to many, Sheikh Hasina included Sahara in her cabinet as minister for home affairs.

In a cabinet reshuffle of 2012, she was relieved of her duties as the home minister and made the minister of posts and telecommunications.

Sahara's tenure as minister of home affairs has been marred by different incidents including the BDR mutiny.

She was criticised for the extrajudicial killings done by Police and Rab.

In January, 2011, Sahara Khatun had questioned whether human rights organisations were "siding with the criminals" killed in "encounters" with law enforcers.

She was also widely criticised for her pledges about the 48-hour timeframe, announced to catch the killers of journalist couple, Sagar Sarowar and Meherun Runi.

Apart from being the presidium member of AL, she was founding president of Bangladesh Awami Ainjibi Parishad and General Secretary of Bangladesh Mahila Samity, chairman of Aziz Master Academy, member of International Women Lawyers Federation, the International Women's Alliance and former member of Bangladesh Bar Council, according to biography, published by the parliament secretariat.

Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, AL General secretary Obaidul Quader, ministers including Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque and Home Minister Ashaduzzaman Khan, Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, Law Minister Anisul Huq and Attorney General Mahbubey Alam, top leaders of different political, social and cultural organizations, among others, expressed deep shock at her death.


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