In an unprecedented turn of events, thousands of followers forced the burial of former military dictator and opposition Jatiya Party (JP) chairman HM Ershad in his northern Rangpur home district Monday after his family had no choice but to bow down to their demands to shift the site from Dhaka’s Army graveyard.
After the fourth namaze janaza at the Collectorate Eidgah of the former military strongman, thousands of his supporters and activists stopped his coffin from being taken to the waiting air force helicopter which would fly to Dhaka, shouting that they want Ershad to be buried there in Rangpur as announced earlier.His supporters chanted slogans “we will not allow our leader to be taken back” and then they laid a seize of the vehicle carrying the coffin. They started to guide the vehicle towards Ershad’s home, saying “you have to kill us if you want his body.”
His widow Raushan Ershad gave in finally, while his other wife Bidisha Siddique said the strongman had wished to be buried in his hometowns on his death.
She claimed in a Facebook post saying “Just like millions of party leaders and activists, I also want that Ershad’s last address should be Rangpur.”
Bidisha wrote that Ershad several times told her, “I want to be buried at the ‘Pallinibash’, I could not repay the love and rewards of Rangpur’s people yet. I want people of Rangpur tod keep me in their prayers after my death and will seek Allah’s blessings while praying at my grave.”
His flower bedecked brown coffin marked with military insignia was lowered into his in the premises of his house “Pallinibash” at 5:40pm. The military bugle played the last post and a gun salute told his supporters that the man they loved so much was now in the hands of Allah.
Ershad, 89, lived a life of uncertainty and drama, which followed him to his grave as a change of burial site for a man of his stature is an unprecedented case.The body of the former military ruler was buried to his village home ‘Palli Nibas’ instead of the capital after the final and fourth Namaz-e-Janaza in Rangpur town’s Collectorate Eidgah field on Tuesday afternoon. There, he was buried beside his father’s grave in the lychee orchard.
Expressing heartfelt gratitude to the people of Rangpur for their emotion, love and respect for HM Ershad, his wife Raushan Ershad said a statement that she has asked for a piece of land for her next to her late husband.
Earlier in the day, the body of Ershad was taken to Rangpur by a helicopter of Bangladesh Air Force that landed at Rangpur Cantonment around 11:30am. The janaza took place around 2:28pm with the participation of thousands of people.
Jatiya Party acting Chairman GM Guader, Secretary General Moshiur Rahman Ranga, former Secretary General Ruhul Amin Howlader and Ershad’s son Rahgir Al Mahi Shad Ershad, among others, accompanied the body.
Rangpur Metropolitan Police (RMP) took several tier security measures over Ershad’s janaza in Rangpur to fend off any unwanted situation.
Huge congregation from Rangpur and adjacent districts of country’s northern region joined the namaz-e-janaza of their leader and the son of Rangpur, party sources and witnesses said.
Hundreds of thousands of people, including leaders, workers and supporters of the district and upazila units of Jatiya Party from Rangpur and Rajshahi divisions participated in the biggest ever Namaz-e-Janaza held in Rangpur.
Leaders of ruling Awami league, its associate bodies, BNP, JSD, Zaker Party and other political parties and different professionals among others participated in the janaza.
Later, a smart contingent of Rangpur Metropolitan Police (RMP) gave a guard of honour and bugle played the last post before his last janaza.
Mayor of Rangpur Mostafizar Rahman Mostafa, officials of the divisional and district administrations, Rangpur Range of Bangladesh Police, RMP, RAB-13, leaders of Jatiya Party, Awami League and other political parties placed wreathes on his coffin.
Acting Chairman of Jatiya Party GGM Quader, MP, its Secretary General Moshiur Rahman Ranga, MP, City Mayor Mostafizar Rahman Mostafa, among others, addressed the pre-Namaz-e-Janaza ceremony. Imam of Rangpur City Corporation Jam-e-Mosque Moulana Mohammad Idris Ali conducted the Janaza.
After his Namaz-E-Janaza, the body of Ershad was taken to his “Polli Nibas” residence compound in Darshona area of the city for burial as per the changed decision of Jatiya Party and family members of the former President Ershad.
Ershad, a former military strongman and five-time MP, breathed his last at 7:45am on Sunday while undergoing treatment at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Dhaka.
His first janaza was held at the Army Central Mosque in Dhaka on Sunday. His second namaj-e-janaza was held in Dhaka at the premises of the Jatiya Sangsad on Monday morning and third one was held at the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque after Asr prayers on Monday.
The former military strongman had been shuttling between his home and hospital for the last few months as his health condition deteriorated.
He was admitted to the CMH on June 26 as he had been suffering from various old-age complications, including low haemoglobin, kidney and liver problem, high bilirubin and serious keen pain.
Ershad’s Qulkhwani will be held on Wednesday at Gulshan’s Azad mosque in Dhaka.