Four days after being elected an MP of the 11th parliament, Bangladesh Awami League Presidium member and Public Administration Minister Syed Ashraful Islam died of lungs cancer at a hospital in Thailand on Thursday (Jan 3). He was 67. He breathed his last at Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok, local media reports said.
Syed Ashraf, son of national leader and Bangabandhu’s close associate Syed Nazrul Islam, left behind one daughter and a host of relatives to mourn his death. His body will be brought back home on Saturday.
Syed Ashraf was elected MP from Kishoreganj-1 constituency five times – 1996, 2001, 2008, 2014 and 2018. In Sunday’s election, the Awami League leader came out successful from the parliamentary seat.
He, however, could not take oath on Thursday when all the Awami League MPs were sworn in. The Awami League leader submitted a letter to the Speaker seeking time for taking the oath.
His wife Shila Islam died of cancer at a London hospital on Oct 22 last.
Syed Ashraf, a member of the 10th parliament, took a 90-day leave from the Jatiyo Sangsad from Sep 18 last for receiving treatment in Thailand.
In 2008, Syed Ashraf returned home from London to steer Awami League during the army-backed government when the party went through a difficult time. He was made the party’s general secretary in 2009 and served for two consecutive terms till 2016.
Syed Ashraf was made LGRD and Cooperatives Minister after Awami League formed the government through the Dec 29 election in 2008. He was given the charge of the same ministry after the party won the Jan 5 election in 2014.
Syed Ashraf was, however, removed from the ministry in July, 2015 and made a minister without portfolio. A week later, he was made the Public Administration Minister.
Following his family tradition, Syed Ashraf had been involved in politics since his student life. He served as the president of Greater Mymensingh district unit Bangladesh Chhatra League and assistant publicity secretary of central BCL after the country’s independence.
Ashraf went to London after the assassination of the four national leaders, including his father Syed Nazrul Islam, on Nov 3, 1975 inside Dhaka Central Jail. He returned home in 1996 and became MP from Kishoreganj-1 seat with Awami League ticket. He was later made State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism.
President Md. Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and his cabinet colleagues expressed deep shock at the death of Syed Ashraful Islam. In separate messages, they prayed for salvation of the departed soul and conveyed their sympathy to the bereaved family members.