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<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 155 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

May 21, 2004

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Salute to an
Honest Politician

Shamim Ahsan

He was an example of the qualities badly missing in our politics. At a time when politicians seem to be increasingly dependent on black money and muscle power, he relied on his honesty, hard work and love for people. He didn't fail. The people of Gazipur placed their trust in him by electing their representative time and again. none Ahsanullah Master, whom the people of Gazipur fondly called 'Sir' was indeed a rare jewel among the debris called politics.

On that fateful morning of May 7, when the assassin's bullet ripped through his breast, ironically on the premises of the school that he established and where he had taught for years, Gazipur lost their favourite Sir. With his demise the people of Gazipur lost their leader who's home was the permanent address they always went to in good times and bad. And the nation lost a good, honest man, an increasingly rare breed in our politics.

What distinguishes Master from most other MPs is that though he rose from a general worker to an MP, he remained the same simple, unassuming, warm Master Saheb to the people of his area. "His door was always open and he played the untiring host to visitors who came in hundreds to talk about their complaints and demands," says Rubel, the slain MP's youngest son. "He didn't have solutions to all their problems, neither did he have the ability to fulfill all their expectations, but everybody returned with the satisfaction that "MP Saheb had at least listened patiently".

An extremely hard-working man with great organising capability, Master emerged literally from a grass-root level worker to the mainstay of Awami League in Gazipur. His political career began quite early. He was a child of 13 and a school-goer when he formally joined Chhatra League, the student wing of Awami League. After graduating in 1970 from Suhrawardi College, he joined Awami League in 1970. In the meantime, he had already taken up teaching in Noagaon High School, which he established almost single-handedly in 1969. Then came the independence war, where once again Master exhibited his organising acumen. Master's rise in politics wasn't sudden; he began with Union Parishad and became the chairman of Pubail Union Parishad three times. In 1990, he decided to move forward, fought the Upazilla elections and was elected the chairman of Gazipur Sadar Upazilla. Master entered into national politics in 1996 when he became an MP from Gazipur-2 constituency on AL ticket, and repeated his victory once again in 2001.

He was a loving father, attests Rubel, the youngest of his two sons and one daughter. Though his pre-occupation with politics consumed almost all his time, he made the best out of whatever little time he was left with, which more often than not amounted to a few minutes a day. "Very often he returned home well after we were all in bed, but when he returned be it 1 am or 2 am he would come into our rooms, see our faces and touch them with affection before heading for bed," reminisces Rubel. He was regularly absent in family functions, which sometimes made the family members a little upset but that never gave them a feeling of deprivation. "Somehow we always had the feeling that he was with us," Rubel says.

"He was very considerate and was always willing to listen to what others had to say. He wouldn't just shut us up even when we were wrong but tried to show where we were wrong," Rubel reminisces fondly. Master, like any other affectionate father, tried to fulfill the demands of his children, but at the same time made sure that they knew their limits. "We sometimes complained to him about having to live in a rented house," recalls Rubel One day, perhaps forced by our insistence, he took both the sons by the hand and walked to Tongi station, not far from our house. It was nighttime and some hundred people were lying in every possible corner of the platform. 'Don't you think you are far better off than these poor people?' he asked. We didn't have any answer." The three time Union Parishad chairman, one time Upazilla chairman and two times MP, Master lived all his life in a rented house.

Unfortunately, little progress has been made regarding the arrest of his assassins. The family members have received threats, with the anonymous callers ordering them to withdraw the case, or else the buried body of Master would be taken away. The government must speed up the process of arresting the killers and the persons who masterminded the murder behind the curtains.

Master, who came from a humble beginning and lived a simple life, had a very strong sense of morality. His profession as a teacher perhaps gave this integrity that never swayed in spite of being a politician. His death is irreparable, but the ideal he championed can be a great inspiration for the young generation of politicians. That is possibly the most apt way to pay tribute to him.


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