Follow RP Shaha's footprints: PM -The Asian Age

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called on the affluent sections of society in the country to come forward to serve the cause of the nation by following in the footprints of philanthropist Ranada Prasad Shaha, popularly known as RP Shaha.

The Prime Minister was speaking at a ceremony to mark the conferring of the 'Danveer Ranada Prasad Shaha Smarak Gold Medal' to four national celebrities at Kumudini Complex in Mirzapur, Tangail, yesterday afternoon. In her comments, Sheikh Hasina said, "There are many rich people in our country. If they follow in RP Shaha's footsteps, ordinary people would not have any sufferings."

Sheikh Hasina recalled with respect the extraordinary philanthropic contributions made by RP Shaha in Mirzapore at a time when it was was a remote area. The legendary political leader Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and National Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam were posthumously honored with the award, while the other two recipients were 1952 language movement veteran National Professor Rafiqul Islam and eminent painter Shahabuddin Ahmed.

On behalf of Suhrawardy, Sheikh Rehana, younger daughter of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, received the gold medal from the prime minister. She was present at the ceremony as a special guest.Poet Nazrul's granddaughter Khilkhil Kazi received the medal on behalf of the National Poet.

Professor Rafiqul Islam and artist Shahabuddin Ahmed were present to receive their awards from the prime minister.A businessman by background, Shaha earned the reputation of being a leading Bengali philanthropist and founded such path-breaking educational institutions as Bharateswari Homes, Kumudini College and Debendra College.He was abducted by the Pakistani occupation forces during the War of Liberation and never returned home. His remains were never found.

Recalling his generosity, Sheikh Hasina said, "He earned money with one hand and gave it away with the other." She noted with appreciation that RP Shaha had established the Kumudini Welfare Trust to serve the cause of humanity.

His efforts toward promoting women's education through organizations like Kumudini Women Medical College and Kumudini Nursing School were recalled by Sheikh Hasina.Sheikh Hasina said her doors would always remain open for the Kumudini Welfare Trust in its endeavor to serve the cause of the nation.

Chairman and Managing Director of the Trust Rajib Prasad Shaha presided over the function.Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque, Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Dr Murad Hasan, members of parliament, secretaries to the prime minister and other dignitaries were present at the award ceremony.

Recalling her first visit to Kumudini, the premier said, "I came here probably in 1956 or 1957 with my father (Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman) and mother (Bangamata Begum Fazilatunnesa).""While visiting the place, Bangabandhu became overwhelmed at observing the area and expressed his desire to get me admitted to Kumudini.

But, it wasn't possible as my father was arrested soon after the declaration of martial law in 1958," she continued.She mentioned that she was emotionally attached to memories of RP Shaha's family, saying, "Bijoya aunty (eldest daughter of RP Shaha) came to our house with cooked food after the assassination of the Father of the Nation and most of his family members on August 15, 1975."

Earlier in the morning, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated 14 development projects and laid the foundation stones of 17 other schemes by unveiling their plaques from Kumudini Complex in Tangail.

She also laid the foundation stones of Bharateswari Homes Multipurpose Hall and the Institute of Post Graduate Nursing Complex at the Kumudini Complex.The Prime Minister later visited Kumudini Hospital.

---Masud Reza, Tangail