President Zillur Rahman, who appeared as an icon of political decency having firm commitment, breathed his last on Wednesday at the age of 84 living an eventful life which eventually installed him as the 19th president of Bangladesh.
Son of a lawyer and himself a legal practitioner by profession, Zillur Rahman was born in a respectable Muslim family at Bhairab Thana of Kishoreganj district on March 09, 1929. He made his debut in politics in late 1940s and made visible his quality to be a leader during the historic 1952 Language Movement.
In subsequent decades, he made himself part of the nation’s political process when the country saw his emergence as a national leader from a popular student leader having his active role in the Bengali nationalist movements, national upheavals in 1960s and the pro-democracy campaigns in independent Bangladesh.
He took part in movement against military rule in 1962, Six- point movement in 1966 and the mass-upsurge in 1969 as a close associate of Bangabandhu. In 1970, he was elected Member of the National Assembly (MNA) of Pakistan.
Zillur Rahman was one of the key-figures in reuniting Awami League, which led the 1971 Liberation War, as it was exposed to political wilderness for long 21 years until 1996 elections after the August 15, 1975 putsch.
He also played a crucial role as the party was exposed to extreme difficulties during the military backed interim government in 2007-2008 exhausting his all out efforts to keep the unity and for fresh transition to democracy as the acting party chief while party president Sheikh Hasina was in prison.
But the home atmosphere visibly created grounds for him to develop his political career as his father late Meher Ali Mian was a renowned lawyer, chairman of the then Mymensingh Local Board and member of the District Board.
Zillur Rahman came in close touch with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1947, when as a student of Dhaka Intermediate College he was campaigning on referendum in Sylhet during the British regime.
President Rahman started his academic life in greater Mymensingh while he passed Matriculation from Bhairab KB High School in 1945 and later obtained Intermediate of Arts (IA) certificate from Dhaka Intermediate College. In 1954, he got his MA with honours in History and LLB degree from the University of Dhaka.
He was first elected to the then Pakistan national Assembly in 1970 and in independent Bangladesh he was elected Member of Parliament (MP) in 1973, 1986, 1996 and 2001 general elections from his Bhairab constituency and served as minister in different portfolios at different times.