Zillur Rahman

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Zillur Rahman
জিল্লুর রহমান
Zillur Rahman in 2011
14th President of Bangladesh
In office
12 February 2009 – 20 March 2013
Prime MinisterSheikh Hasina
Preceded byIajuddin Ahmed
Succeeded byMohammad Abdul Hamid
Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives
In office
23 January 1996 – 15 July 2001
Prime MinisterSheikh Hasina
Succeeded byM. Azizul Haq(as Adviser of the Caretaker Government)
Personal details
Mohammed Zillur Rahman

(1929-03-09)9 March 1929
Bhairab, Bengal Presidency
Died20 March 2013(2013-03-20) (aged 84)
Resting placeBanani graveyard, Dhaka, Bangladesh[1]
Political partyAwami League
Other political
Grand Alliance (2008–2013)
(m. 1958; died 2004)
ChildrenNazmul Hassan
EducationMS (history)
Alma mater

Mohammed Zillur Rahman (9 March 1929 – 20 March 2013) was a Bangladeshi politician who served as the President[2] from 2009 to his death in 2013. He was also a senior presidium member of the Awami League.[3][4][5] He is the third president of Bangladesh, after Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Ziaur Rahman, to die in office, while being the first to die of natural causes.

Early life[edit]

Zillur Rahman was born on 9 March 1929 in Bhairab Upazila, Kishoreganj District,[6] his mother's paternal home. His father, Meher Ali Miyan, was a lawyer, the Chairman of the Mymensingh Local Board and Member of the District Board.[5]

Zillur Rahman's early education started at a nearby primary school named Bhairab Model Govt. Primary school. In 1946, he passed Matriculation from Bhairab K. B. High School. He graduated with an Intermediate of Arts (IA) in 1947 from Dhaka College.[7] In 1954, he got his MA with Honours in History and an LL.B. degree from Dhaka University.[8][9]


Zillur Rahman became close with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman during the campaign for the 1947 Sylhet referendum.[9] He participated in the Bengali language movement of 1952.[10] He held a student gathering on 19 February 1952 at Dhaka University as part of the language movement. In 1953, he was expelled by the Dhaka University for his role in the language Movement but the order was rescinded in the face of student protests. He was the vice-chairman of election steering committee for the greater Mymensingh region during the 1954 election. He served as the president of the Awami League affiliated East Pakistan Awami Swechchhasebak League. In 1956 he was elected President of the Kishoreganj subdivision unit of Awami League. He served as the General Secretary of Dhaka District Bar Association.[9]

Later, as an Awami League candidate, Zillur Rahman was elected as a member of parliament in the 1970 national elections of Pakistan. During the Bangladesh Liberation War, Zillur Rahman actively participated in the Government-in-exile. He was a contributor to the Daily Joy Bangla.[11] After the war, Zillur Rahman became the General Secretary of Awami League in 1972. He was elected as a member of the parliament in the 1973 general elections.[5] In 1974, he was elected to the post of General Secretary of the Awami League. In 1975 he was appointed to the Central Committee of Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League and made its secretary.[9] After the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Zillur Rahman was arrested by the army junta, and spent four years in prison. In 1981, he served as a Presidium Member of Awami League. he was elected to the parliament in 1986 and was imprisoned the same year. In 1992, he was made the general secretary of Awami League.[9]

Zillur Rahman served as a Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives and the deputy leader of parliament in the Awami League government between 1996 and 2001.[5] He was re-elected General Secretary of Bangladesh Awami League in 1997. He was re-elected to Parliament in 2001.[12] His wife, Ivy Rahman, was killed the 2004 Dhaka grenade attack. She was a leader of Bangladesh Awami League and its women's front the Mohila League.[13] He served as the temporary President of Bangladesh Awami League during the 2006–08 Bangladeshi political crisis when President of Bangladesh Awami League, Sheikh Hasina, was imprisoned by the military backed caretaker government. He was re-elected to Parliament in 2008.[9][12]


Zillur Rahman was sworn in as the 19th president of Bangladesh on 12 February 2009.[14] He was elected president of Bangladesh uncontested.[15] In May 2009 in a meeting with the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he called for caution over the global recession and emphasized the importance of globalization.[16] He was the Chief Scout of Bangladesh and expressed happiness over Bangladesh becoming the 5th largest scout country in the world during his term.[17] As President he was the Supreme Commander of the Bangladesh Armed Forces. He had called for the modernizing of the Armed Forces.[18] He called for improving ties between the Air Forces of South Asian countries.[19]

On 27 September 2010, Zillur Rahman appointed Justice A. B. M. Khairul Haque to be the 19th chief justice of Bangladesh.[20] He called for their training to be improved to facilitate the modernization.[21] In 2012, he asked the Organisation of Islamic Conference countries to pressure Myanmar to take back the Rohingya refugees.[22] He called for expanding trade and diplomatic ties with Cuba after the Cuban ambassador to Bangladesh presented his credentials on 10 February 2012.[23] On 28 January 2013, he criticised Bangladesh Nationalist Party, then the opposition party, for not participating in the parliament and carrying out their duties.[24]

Clemency power exercised by Zillur Rahman[edit]

Zillur Rahman exercised his power to grant clemency to as many as 21 individuals while he was in office.[25] In contrast, only four pardons were granted by his predecessors between 1972 and 2008.[25] Among the people for whom Zillur Rahman exercised his clemency power is A H M Biplob who was convicted in the case of murdering a lawyer. The Sessions Court awarded Biplob, son of Awami League leader and Mayor of Laxmipur municipality Abu Taher,[26] the death penalty for the murder in absentia. Following applications from Biplob's mother, Zillur Rahman, the then President pardoned Biplob in the murder case of the lawyer in July 2011 and, then in February 2012, remitted the two other life imprisonments to ten years imprisonments.[27]

Personal life[edit]

Zillur Rahman was married to fellow Awami League politician Ivy Rahman, the party's secretary for women's affairs. Ivy was killed in the 2004 Dhaka grenade attack.[28] Together they had one son – Nazmul Hassan Papon – and two daughters – Tania Bakht and Tanima Bakht.[14] Papon is the president of the Bangladesh Cricket Board, managing director of Beximco Pharma and an MP.[5][29] Ivy's nephew is married to Sheikh Rehana.[citation needed]

Illness and death[edit]

Grave of Zillur Rahman at Banani Graveyard

Zillur Rahman died at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore aged 84 on 20 March 2013[30] after he was flown to the country by an air ambulance for critical lung infection on 10 March. It followed his admission to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) at Dhaka cantonment the previous day, which was his 84th birthday.[31] In Singapore, he had been undergoing treatment for kidney and respiratory problems since 11 March.[32][33] Bangladesh's High Commissioner in Singapore Mahbub Uz Zaman announced: "The president died at a hospital here in Singapore at 6:47 pm local time."[34] At the time of his death his children were with him. In his absence, Parliamentary Speaker Abdul Hamid was appointed as acting president on 14 March. A presidential spokesman later announced that Hamid has declared three days of national mourning.[35] He was buried in Dhaka's Banani graveyard.[1]

In reaction to his death, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's immediate response was to express profound shock and that the death was "an irreparable loss to the country and its people," according to her Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad.[35] In 2013, Hasina declared that the Mirpur-Airport Road Flyover will be named after him.[36]


  1. ^ a b Hasan Jahid Tusher (23 March 2013). "President laid to rest". The Daily Star. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  2. ^ "Zillur sworn in as president". The Daily Star. 13 February 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  3. ^ "Khaleda sad, unhappy". The Daily Star. 21 March 2013.
  4. ^ "Bangladesh President Zillur Rahman dies after illness". BBC. 20 March 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Presidium Member of Awami League". 11 February 2009. Archived from the original on 26 April 2009. Retrieved 11 February 2009.
  6. ^ অভিভাবক হারাল জাতি. Prothom Alo (in Bengali). 21 March 2013. Archived from the original on 23 March 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  7. ^ "President Zillur passes away". BDINN. Archived from the original on 27 March 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  8. ^ "National Web Portal of Bangladesh – President". Government of Bangladesh. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Howlader, Abdul Awal (3 July 2014). "Rahman, Md Zillur". Banglapedia. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  10. ^ Habib, Haroon (22 March 2013). "Zillur Rahman, a revered statesman". The Hindu. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
  11. ^ "Zillur Rahman: Pioneer of Bangladeshi independence". The Independent. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Life of Zillur Rahman". The Daily Star. 20 March 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  13. ^ "Ivy dies from her wounds after 58 hours". The Daily Star. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  14. ^ a b "A complete politician-cum-president". BD news24. 21 March 2013. Archived from the original on 23 March 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  15. ^ "Zillur all set to be president". The Daily Star. 9 February 2009. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  16. ^ "Create opportunity for foreign trade from global recession". The Daily Star. 4 May 2009. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  17. ^ "Scout movement to help build happy, prosperous Bangladesh". The Daily Star. 9 March 2009. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  18. ^ "Zillur for modernising air force". The Daily Star. 13 May 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  19. ^ "Zillur for more ties among air forces of Saarc countries". The Daily Star. 24 February 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  20. ^ "Justice Khairul Haque new chief justice". The Daily Star. 27 September 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  21. ^ "Modernise army thru' latest training: Zillur". The Daily Star. 11 March 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  22. ^ "Zillur urges OIC to persuade Myanmar". The Daily Star. 17 August 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  23. ^ "Zillur for expanding relations with Cuba". The Daily Star. 10 February 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  24. ^ "Zillur critical of opposition role". The Daily Star. 28 January 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  25. ^ a b Ahsan, Syed Badrul; Liton, Shakhawat (21 March 2013). "President Zillur passes away". The Daily Star. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  26. ^ "Presidential clemency political". The Daily Star. 1 March 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
  27. ^ "BANGLADESH: Clemency must not be a political game". 29 February 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
  28. ^ "Country crippled in hartal". The Daily Star. 25 August 2004. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  29. ^ "Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd (BXPq.L) People". Reuters. 9 February 2009. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  30. ^ "Zillur Rahman dies". bdnews24.com. 20 March 2013. Archived from the original on 4 February 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  31. ^ "Bangladesh president Zillur Rahman dies in Singapore". First Post. 20 March 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  32. ^ "Bangladesh President Zillur Rahman dies after illness". BBC. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  33. ^ "President Zillur Rahman no more". The Daily Star. 5 March 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  34. ^ "Bangladesh President Zillur Rahman dies". Livemint. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  35. ^ a b "Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)". BSS News. 20 March 2013. Archived from the original on 23 March 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  36. ^ "Mirpur-Airport flyover opens to public". The Daily Star. 27 March 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2018.

External links[edit]

Media related to Zillur Rahman at Wikimedia Commons

Political offices
Preceded by President of Bangladesh
Succeeded by