Sadeque Hossain Khoka, former mayor of undivided Dhaka City Corporation and BNP vice-chairman, died on Monday in the USA. He was 67.
Khoka, also valiant freedom fighter, breathed his last at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York around 1:50pm (BST), said BNP chairperson’s media wing member Sayrul Kabir Khan.
On his Facebook page, Khoka’s son Ishraque Hossain said, “On 4th November 2019, my father former Mayor of Dhaka Sadeque Hossain Khoka passed away at New York time 2:50 am and Bangladesh time 1:50 pm in New York City. I will announce further information on behalf of my family [Sic].”
He also said the first namaz-e-janaza of his father will be held today (Monday) after Esha prayers at Jamaica Muslim Center, New York.
Quoting Ishraque, Sayrul said the family members of the ex-mayor has decided to bring his body back home, and bury him at Jurain Graveyard beside the graves of his parents as per his last wish.
He said Ishraque has already contacted Bangladesh Mission in New York to issue travel permit to bring his father’s body to the country.
Once the travel permit is issued, Sayrul said, the family members will fix the time and date for taking the BNP leader’s mortal remains back here.
Khoka had been undergoing treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center hospital since October 18 for cancer and some other diseases.
“Initially, his condition was stable, but it continued to worsen since Tuesday last,” Ishraque told UNB on Saturday.
He also said doctors stopped giving his father treatment for cancer a few days back as he was not in a condition to receive it.”
Khoka is survived by his wife Ismat Ara, daughter Sarika Sadeque, sons Ishraque, Isfaque Hossain and a host of relatives, followers and well-wishers to mourn his death.
He along with his wife went to the USA in 2014 for treatment while the validity of their passports expired in 2017.
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Sunday urged the government to take necessary steps so their party leader and freedom fighter Sadeque Hossain Khoka can return home from the USA as he wished to be buried in Bangladesh.
Later, State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam said Bangladesh Mission in New York is ready to issue ‘travel permit’ if the family of Khoka applies for that.
Meanwhile, BNP acting Chairman Tarique Rahman, Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir expressed deep shock at his death.
Bikalpa Dhara President Dr AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury, Gonoforum President Dr Kamal Hossain and General Secretary Reza Kibria condoled his demise.
Jatiya Party Chairman GM Quader, Krishak Sramik Janata League President Abdul Quader Siddique also expressed profound shock at Khoka’s death.
Khoka was convicted in two graft cases in 2015 and 2018 in absentia.
On October 20, 2015, a Dhaka court sentenced him to 13 years’ imprisonment in a case for amassing wealth worth about Tk 10.52 crore illegally and concealing information about that.
On April 2, 2008, Assistant Director of Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Shamsul Alam filed the graft case for accumulating illegal wealth against Khoka and his family members with Ramna Police Station.
On November 28, 2018, another court sentenced Khoka and three other people to 10 years imprisonment in a case filed for alleged corruption in leasing out a multi-storey car parking lot in the city’s Banani area.
On February 15 2012, ACC assistant director M Mahbubul Alam filed the case with Shahbagh Police Station on charge of misappropriating Tk 30.82 lakh from the car parking project.
Born in May 12, 1952 in Munshiganj, Khoka was a guerilla freedom fighter during the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971.
He stepped into politics through joining Moulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani’s National Awami Party (NAP).
Later, he joined BNP, and was made party’s Dhaka city unit president.
Khoka was first elected MP in 1991 from Sutrapur-Kotwali seat and subsequently made State Minister for Youth and Sports. He was also elected MP in 1996.
In 2001 national election, Khoka was also elected MP from the same seat in 2001 and given the charge of the Minister of Fisheries and Livestock.
Later, he contested Dhaka City Corporation election in 2002 and was elected mayor. He held the post for nearly nine years.
Khoka was arrested days before the January-5 national election in 2014.
Released on bail from jail, he was admitted to Birdem Hospital in the capital, but doctors could not exactly detect his health problem.
Later, he went to the USA on May 14, 2014 and has been receiving treatment there since then.