The 36th death anniversary of Dr. Aleem Al-Razee, the celebrated jurist, parliamentarian, educationist and philanthropist who died on March 15 1985, is being observed on Sunday with due solemnity in the country.

A legendary figure, Razee was at the forefront of all political struggles and socio-cultural movements unleashed in the country to win democracy, human rights and freedom of expression of the people.

He envisioned an egalitarian society based on rule of law, social and economic justice and became a living symbol of resistance against all forms of exploitation, oppression and repression waged a relentless war on all military rules, totalitarian governments and dictatorships both during the pre and post mere Bangladesh.

As an independent member of the then Pakistan National Assembly during 1965 to 1969, Dr. Razee played a sheet anchor role not only in defending freedom and democracy but also in pleading the cause of the then East Pakistani Bengalees who were subjected to unjust domination, discrimination and deprivation by the ruling elites of the then West Pakistan in all walks of life.

That was the grim reality despite East Pakistan being the major contributor to Pakistan's economy in terms of export earnings and the Bengalees forming the majority population. His forceful portrayal of the growing disparity between the Bengalees and non-Bengalees and the prediction in 1965 that Pakistan could disintegrate along the East and West divide fuelled demands for an independent Bangladesh that eventually kindled the spark of liberation war culminating in the emergence of a new nation state of Bangladesh.

Razee was a leading honorary defence counsel in the historical Agartala Case in 1967 in which Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and others were charged with treason against the state of Pakistan. In the face of intimidation and life threats, he defended the accused in a landmark trial that lasted till 1969.

Razee was also a prolific writer who authored several books. His well-documented and carefully researched monumental work, "The Constitutional Glimpses of Martial Law in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh" published posthumously by the University Press Ltd. Dhaka was hailed as a charter of freedom for the fledging and fragile democracies in the region.

One of his works of fiction in Bengali 'On Trekking through to Arakan' was set in the backdrop of the Second World War that left a trail of humanitarian disaster in Burma (now Myanmar). A best seller, the book is a heart rending tale of woes and sufferings that continues to move the readers to this day.

Different voluntary, socio-cultural organizations and educational institutions have chalked out separate programmes to mark the occasion. Discussion meetings on the life and works of Razee are being organised among others by the Shandhani National Eve Donation Society (SNEDS). City Law College. Dhaka, Nagarpur Government College, Nagarpur and Dr. Aleem Al-Razee High School, Lawhati. Tangail. Dr. Aleem-Al-Razee Memorial Council members will lay floral wreaths and offer 'fateha' at Razee's graveyard in Banani and hold milad mahfil in Razee's remembrance on the day in his native village.

In a message released to the press, SNEDS president Prof. Dr. Tossadek Hussain Siddiqui and secretary general Dr. Joynal Islam appealed people to come forward and donate eyes posthumously to restore eye sight to over one and a half million blind people in the country by emulating the noble example set by Dr. Razee. Also an Islamic and Arabic scholar of great repute.

Dr. Razee was the third person in Bangladesh to donate his eyes breaking the taboo that Islam forbids donations of eye and other organs.

Razee dedicated his entire life to promoting humanitarian and social causes. He donated a large part of his income earned as a practising lawyer, his village property to the primary and secondary school founded by him and his vast private collection of rare and invaluable books to the Bangladesh Bar Association library.

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