Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu is not with us today. Yet he is ever awake within us. Today we remember with reverence, his memory, meaningful life, and cherished his values. Today, there is a great need for a sacrificial leader like Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu. He has nurtured the ideals of Bangabandhu all his life.
Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu was an enlightened man in his political life as well as in his family and social life. His wanderings in the social and business spheres were above politics and consequences of political differences. His vows were basically inspired by humanity. To him, politics was the means of greater human welfare. His efforts were tireless in his pursuit of love, friendship and understanding. His resistance against conflicting and violent politics was strong but humble and calm. Akhtaruzzaman, a son from a wealthy family, was a renowned industrialist and was involved in the politics for the common man till his death, upholding the banner of Bangabandhu's ideology.
Akhtaruzzaman Babu is not only a name but also an icon. He was an ideal politician. He was a freedom fighter and one of the facilitators of the liberation war of Bangladesh. This friendly person was close to the public. He enlightened the whole of Chattogram. He devoted himself for the people in Anwara Karnaphuli. Ethics and morality were his unique wealth. He won the hearts and souls of the general peoples. He was one of the leaders of the Chattogram movement and also his contribution to organise the Awami League after 1975 was immeasurable. He was one of the visionary people who worked for the creation of Sonar Bangla of Bangabandhu.
Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu was born in a very aristocratic and rich family. By reaching the top of the business in Bangladesh and being one of the best industrialists, still he didn't feel comfortable to introduce himself as a prominent businessperson or an industrialist. He used to feel more comfortable to introduce himself as a politician because he loved the country and the people. I feel so proud and blessed because I got the chance to be a companion of such a big-hearted person like him. To analyze and talk about the whole life of such a big leader is beyond my qualification level. It made me really amazed by what I experienced by getting in touch with him. His presence during the worst times of the team has boosted up the other leaders and staff, he never detached from the team during the bad periods. His memories will eternally live as the guardian of the large Chattogram.
What Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu had at his disposal was the love of ordinary people. Until his death, he worked for the masses rising above greed and envy. The man who contributed in the struggle period by carrying the lamp of hope through service and great deeds is today asleep in his own village. Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu has proved that if you love people and work for them, people will reciprocate your love. That is why Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu is alive even after his death. He is alive not only in the hearts of people of Chattagram but also in the hearts of the people of Bangladesh. Today is the 8th death anniversary of him. He is more radiant, more popular today. Some souls are apparently dead, but positive energy and karma give them immortality. Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu, a short-lived great public leader, who was a gift to the world and civilization. The void created in the Awami family by his death will never be filled.
Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu was a famous politician and one of the organizers of the liberation war. He was always being the shelter and backbone to the staff and team even in many obstacles. Not only in politics but also in businesses and industrial sectors, his support was unexplainable for the country and people. He tried to create vacancy for the people and helped to reduce the unemployment rate of this country. Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu was active for many years in the politics of Chattogram. He was the president of South Chattogram Awami League for a very long time. He was an Awami league presidential member and four times elected member as the national parliament. In the 9th national parliament, he was the president of the standing committee of the Ministry of Jute and Textile. Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu was born in 1945 in Anwara Haildhar village. His father's name is Nuruzzaman Chowdhury. He was an advocate and landlord. His mother's name is Khorsheda Begum. He was married to one of the renowned industrialists of Late Sirazul Islam Chowdhury 's second daughter Nur Nahar Zaman from Chattogram's Boalkhali upazilla.
Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu completed his secondary school certificate in 1958 from Patiya High School and immediately he was admitted to Dhaka Notre Dame College in the same year. During his intermediate education life, he achieved scholarship and got himself admitted to Illinois University of Science and Technology in the USA. Later he studied business administration in New York University. He came to the country in December of 1968 after completing associate degree from there. He started business in 1965. Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu was elected as the South Zila Student's League in 1958. In 1967 he joined the principle committee of Awami League. In the 1970 election he was the member of regional council from Anwara and West Patiya. On the eve of the liberation war on the boycott movement, from his Jupiter house in Patharghata all the activities of the war committee were conducted. Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu went to India and took various responsibilities of Bangladeshi immigrants. He was the committee member of Relief and Rehabilitation of Mujibnagar Government. During the middle of the liberation war, he went to many regions of Europe and America for garnering world's support for the cause of liberation war. Firstly, he went to London. He went to America as the representative team member which was led by Abu Syed Chowdhury. In 1970, Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu became the regional council member (MPA); following on 1972, he became the Bangladesh constitutional member and helped compose the Constitution of Bangladesh. He was one of the signers of the constitution in 1972.
After the liberty, he was elected as the national parliament member in 1986, 1991 and 2008. Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu was elected as the South Zila Awami League president. He worked as the secretary of central Awami League industry and trade. Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu risked his life by maintaining contact with the staff of the party after the slaughter of the full family of Bangabandhu in 1975 and later he played a brave role to reconstruct and resurrect the party. Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu also played a strong role in the anti-authoritarian movement in the eighties. He was tortured in prison while participating in the anti-authoritarian movement.
Not only a successful politician but also, he was a successful businessman and an industrialist. Before independence, he set up a factory called Boyle Industry on Batali Road. Later Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu established Asif Steel Mill, Javed Steel Mill, Asif Synthetic, Panam Vegetable, Afroza Oil Mill, Bengal Synthetic Products etc. He purchased Vanguard Steel Mill and Synthetic Resin Products and established the Zaman Industrial Group in the first two decades of independence in Bangladesh. He bought a foreign-owned Armit Mill and built it on a solid foundation. He played a pioneering role in establishing the private banking sector in Bangladesh. He is the founder and founding chairman of United Commercial Bank Limited (UCBL), the second private bank in the country. He was re-elected chairman of the bank in 2011 and held the post until his death. Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu also played an important role as the spokesperson and business leader of the country's business community. He was twice the President of the Chattogram Chamber and in 1988 he was the President of the FBCCI, the country's top business organisation. He also served as President of the OIC Chamber of Commerce. In 1989, he was elected Vice Chairman of the 77 Jati Group. He is the only Bangladeshi who has been elected vice chairman of this prestigious international organization. He is the father of three sons and three daughters. Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu was a patron, humanitarian and philanthropist. He was the elected chairman of Haildhar Union Parishad from 1967 to 1975. He was also the chairman of Haildhar Union Parishad and the chairman of Thana Parishad after the independence. He established many mosques, madrasas and school colleges in Anwara and West Patiya in Chattogram. He was also involved in many charitable works.
The writer is deputy controller of BGC Trust University Bangladesh and ex-principal of Pahartali University College, Chattogram
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.