Bangladesh has lost one of its most respected scholars, pre-eminent academic and luminary in the passing of National Professor Anisuzzaman
He was one of Bangladesh's brightest stars, through thick and thin, whose light shone on many.
Eminent educator, writer, national professor, and luminary Anisuzzaman passed away on Thursday.
The 83-year-old, who was suffering from several complications, breathed his last around 4:55pm at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Dhaka, his son Ananda Zaman told The Business Standard.
The CMH doctors performed a coronavirus test on Professor Anisuzzaman, taking a sample from his body and the result came positive.
"My father's body will be kept at the CMH morgue tonight. His burial will be done following the standard procedure of health authorities," Ananda said.
"We will try to bury him at Azimpur Graveyard on my grandfather's grave," he added.
The national professor was admitted to the Universal Cardiac Hospital in the city on April 27 with several complications. As his condition worsened, he was taken to the CMH.
Anisuzzaman was a professor emeritus at the University of Dhaka's Bangla Department. He was made a national professor in 2018.
He participated in the 1952 language movement, the 1969 mass upsurge and the 1971 liberation war. After the country's independence, he became a member of the Kudrat-E-Khuda National Education Commission, the first of its kind in Bangladesh.
Anisuzzaman also became a member of the Planning Commission during the liberation war.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in separate messages, expressed their deep shock at the death of the luminary. They also conveyed sympathy to his bereaved family.
Foreign minister Dr A K Abdul Momen, Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud, Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni, UGC Chairman Professor Kazi Shahidullah, Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Professor Akhtaruzzaman, Sher-E-Bangla Agricultural University Vice-Chancellor Professor Kamal Uddin Ahmad and many other personalities expressed shock at his demise.
Born in Kolkata in 1937, Professor Anisuzzaman and his family moved to Bangladesh soon after the partition of 1947.
He was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Chicago during 1964-65 and a Commonwealth Academic Staff Fellow at the University of London during 1974-75.
Professor Anisuzzaman was also associated with research projects of the United Nations University during 1978-83.
He taught Bengali literature at the University of Dhaka during 1959-69 and 1985-2003 and at the University of Chittagong during 1969-85.
Anisuzzaman was a visiting fellow at the University of Paris in 1994 and North Carolina State University in 1995 and a visiting professor at the Viswa Bharati during 2008-09.
He authored many books in Bangla and English, including "Swaruper Sandhane", "Factory correspondence and other Bengali documents in the India Office Library and Records"; "Creativity, Reality and Identity", "Cultural Pluralism" and "Identity, Religion and Recent History".
His "Muslim Manash O Bangla Sahitya", "Swaruper Sandhane", "Purono Bangla Gadya", "Bangali Nari: Sahitye O Samaje", "Kal Nirabadhi", and "Ihajagatikata O Anyanya" are considered seminal works by academics working on Bangla literature and language.
Anisuzzaman had been a recipient of the Bangla Academy award for research in 1970 and the EkushePadak for his contribution to education in 1983.
The Rabindra Bharati also conferred on him an honorary DLitt in 2005 and the University of Calcutta honoured him with the Sarojini Basu Medal in 2008.
Anisuzzaman played a significant role by actively participating in all democratic movements – from the Language Movement of 1952 to Liberation War in 1972, for the restoration of democracy in Bangladesh in the 1980s, and for the trial of war criminals later.
He appeared as a witness before the International Crimes Tribunal. He remained a champion for the cause of secularism.
He was a pivotal figure in translating the Constitution of Bangladesh in Bangla in 1972. He also served as chairman of the Trustee Board of the Nazrul Institute and also was the president of Bangla Academy from 2012 till the last day of his life. He was elected a fellow of the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
Renowned academic, author, critic and columnist Professor Emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury said that the nation lost an asset as National Professor Anisuzzaman passed away.
"It is very rare that a man is a famous scholar and at the same time is a very effective writer. Professor Anisuzzaman was also a good teacher."
"I personally lost a friend and a companion," Serajul Islam Choudhury said, adding that Professor Anisuzzaman was a socially committed person and he played a vital role during every national crisis.
"I knew him from my university life. He was an immediate junior to me. He was also dedicated to the students."
Vice-Chancellor of the Sheikh Hasina University Rafique Ullah Khan was a student and also a colleague of Professor Anisuzzaman at Bangla Department of the University of Dhaka.
"I am fortunate enough that I was one of his students and also a colleague. It is very difficult to express him in a few words," said Rafique Ullah Khan.
"Until his last breath, Professor Anisuzzaman tried to uphold the Bangla language and the people of this land internationally."