Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's special assistant Mahbubul Hoque Shakil died of cardiac arrest at a restaurant in the capital yesterday. He was 47.
He left behind his wife Nilufar Yesmin and daughter Rubaba Yesmin as well as a host of relatives, friends and admirers to mourn his death. His father advocate Jahirul Hoque Khoka is the incumbent president of Mymensingh district Awami League.
Born on December 20, 1968 in Tangail, Shakil was a forefront leader of anti-autocracy students' movement in the 1980s. He was a good organiser and omnipresent with his high-pitched slogans -- “Down with autocrat” -- in the processions on the Dhaka University campus and beyond during the turbulent times of General Ershad.
A former senior vice-president and organising secretary of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), Shakil had a great liking for both poetry and prose writings. He was published twice as a poet in book forms -- "Kherokhatar Pata Theke" and "Mon Kharaper Gari" -- to his credit.
An impromptu translation of Shakil's last written poem goes like this -
"The cry of the dead makes no din, nor should it,
No words; graves make no statements.
The star-crossed man drops dead abruptly
With so much echoes trapped inside
On the night of your feverish coupling."
Hearing about his demise, Awami League leaders, ministers, relatives and well-wishers gathered outside the Japanese restaurant at Gulshan.
AL leaders Syed Ashraful Islam, Mahbubul Alam Hanif, Nasrul Hamid Bipu, PM's press secretary Ihsanul Karim, prime minister's military secretary Maj Gen Miah Md Joynul Abedin, among others, were there.
Briefing reporters outside the restaurant -- Samdado -- State Minister for Energy Nasrul Hamid Bipu said the body would be kept at Birdem mortuary overnight while his namaz-e-janaza would be held on the DU campus at 11:00am today after an autopsy.
Later, his body would be taken to his hometown Mymensingh and he would be buried at his home in Baghmara area in the evening, he added.
Police, meanwhile, picked up five workers of the restaurant around 4:10pm for interrogation, police sources said.
Gulshan police said a team of the Criminal Investigation Department's crime scene unit “collected evidence” from the restaurant.
The eatery was shut in the evening to make sure that no evidence was damaged, said Sub-inspector Khalidur Rahman of Gulshan Police Station.
Shakil was given the task of a special assistant of the premier with the status of an additional secretary in 2014.
He was appointed as a deputy press secretary to PM Hasina after the Awami League assumed office in 2009. Four years later he was made the premier's special assistant (media).
Shakil previously was entrusted with the charge of running the Centre for Research and Information (CRI), the research and information cell of Bangladesh Awami League, after the 8th national polls in 2001.
He studied at Mymensingh Zilla School and Anandamohan Government College in Mymensingh and obtained honours and master's degrees from the sociology department of Dhaka University.
PM Hasina expressed deep shock at the death of Shakil. She prayed for eternal peace of the departed soul and conveyed profound sympathy to the bereaved family.
In a message, PM said that with his demise the nation lost a true admirer of Bangabandhu and efficient organiser. She recalled Shakil's contribution to the country's democratic movements and cultural arena as a student leader, poet and writer.
"As a student leader in particular he made immense contribution to the country's democratic movements," the premier said.
Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Deputy Speaker Fazle Rabbi Mia, Opposition Leader of the House Raushan Ershad, Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor, Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu, Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque, Land Minister Shamsur Rahman Sherif, Chief Whip ASM Feroz, State Minister for Land Saifuzzaman Chowdhury, Information Secretary Martuza Ahmed, Land Secretary Mesbah-ul Alam, JSD General Secretary Shirin Akhtar, Jatiya Party General Secretary Ruhul Amin Hawlader, Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique and Jahangirnagar University Vice-Chancellor Prof Farjana Islam also offered their condolences.