National Professor Dr Jamilur Reza Choudhury passed away on Tuesday morning at a Dhaka hospital. He was 77.
Morshed Alam, an officer at Square Hospital, said Prof Choudhury was brought there around 4:30am. “He breathed his last at 5am at the emergency,” he said.
Zia Wadud, son-in-law of the National Professor, announced the demise of Prof Choudhury in a Facebook post.
President Abdul Hamid expressed deep shock and sorrow at the death of the National Professor. He conveyed deep sympathy to the bereaved family members and prayed for the eternal peace of the departed soul.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also mourned the death of the National Professor. In a condolence message, she said the Ekushay Padak recipient brilliant educationist played very important role in the infrastructural development of the country.
She recalled the contribution of this talented personality, who led the experts’ panels of Bangabandhu Bridge, Padma Multipurpose Bridge, Dhaka Elevated Expressway, Karnaphuli Tunnel and many other ongoing development projects, with gratitude.
Prof Choudhury was born in Sylhet and had his early education in Dhaka’s St Gregory's School and Dhaka College. He was a foremost civil engineer, researcher, and education advocate of this country.
As a civil engineer, Jamilur Reza Chowdhury’s hand was ever-present in the making of modern Bangladesh. At the time of his death, he was still heading the International Panel of Experts on the Padma Bridge, the country’s flagship infrastructure project.
Prior to that, he chaired the panel of experts who advised the government and a clutch of donors including JICA, on the Jamuna Multipurpose Bridge, completed in 1998.
He was the Team Leader for the Multipurpose Cyclone Shelter Programme and prepared the Master Plan for Cyclone Shelters in the coastal areas of Bangladesh.
Prof Choudhury was even appointed the chairman of a task force for developing software export and it infrastructure in Bangladesh from 1997 to 2000.
In 2013, in “gratitude for the cooperation and long standing contribution” to their activities, JICA conferred their special Recognition Award on Prof Choudhury, and in the citation, they said: ”No important development project in Bangladesh has been implemented without the involvement of Prof Choudhury.”
He was also a former adviser to the caretaker government of Bangladesh in 1996, and was the Vice-Chancellor of University of Asia Pacific before his demise.
He has received numerous awards during his illustrious career. He was awarded Ekushey Padak in 2017 and appointed as the National Professor the next year.
He also won a Commonwealth Academic Staff Fellowship in 1974 and spent a year at the University of Surrey, UK, as a Visiting Associate Professor.
Prof Choudhury is survived by his wife Selina Choudhury, daughter Charisma Farheen Choudhury and son Kaashif Reza Choudhury.
In a Facebook post, Prof Choudhury’s son-in-law, on behalf of the family, requested everyone not to attend the namaz-e-janaza in congregation considering the current coronavirus outbreak.
“The last thing he would have wanted is to be the cause of any harm to his countrymen,” Zia Wadud wrote, requesting everyone to pray for the national professor from their own residences.