Vol. 5 Num 92 Thu. August 26, 2004  
Front Page

Ivy laid to rest
Country sees her off in rain of tears

Thousands of mourners braved downpours to lay Ivy Rahman to eternal rest at Banani Cemetery last night, after a huge procession escorting the veteran Awami League leader's body wailed across the city from her namaz-e-janaza to the graveyard.

Family, kin, friends and colleagues of the late AL women's affairs secretary filled the front lawn of the Baitul Mukkarram National Mosque, crying and sobbing as her body arrived there for janaza.

"This rain is the nation's tears for her," said Ziaul Hassan, an AL activist and one of the multitude that spilled onto the surrounding avenues. They came to pay their last homage to the Ivy Apa, who succumbed early Tuesday to fatal injuries received in the Saturday's grenade attack on an AL rally on the adjacent Bangabandhu Avenue.

The chant of Kalima Shahadat mingled with the sound of rain and a low-pitched voice describing her life over a loudspeaker as a heavy police escort brought the slain leader's body to the national mosque before the Asr prayers.

Shops and businesses brought down their shutters in fear of riot as law enforcing agencies cordoned off the surrounding roads and kept vigil over the proceedings from building tops under grave security concerns. No public transport was allowed into the area after the end of the half-day hartal at 1:00pm.

Her co-freedom fighters, fellow partisans, women's rights activists, political leaders and a mammoth crowd of mourners placed wreaths at her coffin at Baitul Mukkarram. Others later flooded into the Banani Graveyard to pay their last respects.

"We could not show as much respect to her when she was alive; so now we hope she accepts our gratitude," said emotion-choked Shamsunnahar, one of the thousands who had been gathering since noon on and around Bangabandhu Avenue, the site of Saturday's carnage.

Thousands escorted Ivy's body across Dhaka through Bijoynagar, Malibagh, Maghbazar and Mohakhali to Banani, chanting slogans, with city commuters looking on from behind police barricades, paying their own respects to the veteran women's leader.

While her body was being placed into the grave at 6:45pm, AL President Sheikh Hasina and AL central committee members standing beside her broke down in uncontrollable tears. At the same time, Bangladesh Rifles and police kept thousands waiting on Airport Road and even swooped on some groups with wielding batons.


Earlier, Hasina joined Ivy's family, hundreds of relatives and well-wishers from across the country including Bhairab, her ancestral home, waiting for Ivy's body at Ivy Concord, a home they said had been always enlivened by Ivy's artistic and majestic touch and care.

Hasina and her sister Sheikh Rehana waited along with AL leader and Ivy's husband Zillur Rahman and his two daughters and a son until Ivy's body reached them at 2.30pm

A close associate since childhood, Hasina described her relationship with Ivy as not one of between party colleagues but of family members, as she sat next to Ivy's body alongside a stone-faced Zillur overwhelmed with grief.

Moyna, Ivy's youngest daughter, collapsed as she went to see the lifeless face of her mother, triggering another surge of tears among the crammed apartment building.

Besides Hasina, AL General Secretary Abdul Jalil, senior leaders Tufail Ahmed, Saber Hossian Chowdhury, Asaduzzaman Noor, former president Hussain Mohammad Ershad, various women's rights activists, and US Ambassador Harry K Thomas visited Ivy Concord to console Zillur and his bereaved family.

Mourners carry the coffin of Awami League's Women's Affairs Secretary Ivy Rahman in a procession after her namaz-e-janaza at the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque before laying her to rest at Banani graveyard yesterday. PHOTO: STAR