BIOGRAPHY ON IVY RAHMAN
Former Leader of Mohila Awami League
(7 July 1934 – 24 August 2004)
Ivy Rahman or more popularly known as Ivy Apa (birth name: Jebun Nahar Ivy), was born on 7 July in 1934, in Baro Bari’ of Bhairab, Kishoreganj, present Bangladesh. She was a veteran politician and leader of Awami League party’s women’s wing, Mohila Awami League. She is known to the mass people mainly for losing her life in 2004, during the series of grenade attacks in Awami League’s rally at Dhaka. She is loved for her dedication and effort to the country during different domestic movements and the liberation war and for her ideologies about politics and women’s rights. She was a graduate from University of Dhaka.
Ivy served as the Awami League’s Women’s Affairs secretary, as well as the Women Affairs Secretary of Awami League Central Working Committee. She was selected as the President of Mohila Awami League. Until 2002, she gave services to different other organizations too.
In 2004, Ivy got severely injured when a number of bombs were blasted at the rally of Awami League. In the explosions, Ivy had lost both of her legs. She was then rushed to the hospital, her legs were amputated, and several other operations were conducted on her. 3 days after the attack, on 24 August, finally Ivy lost her life. She was buried in Banani graveyard, Dhaka. She was respected and loved by people of all levels. This was proved as thousands of people were seen at the namaj-e-janaja of Ivy Rahman.
In personal life, she married Zillur Rahman, former President of Bangladesh. They had 3 children together; 1 son, Nazmul Hassan Papon, the president of the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) and MP, and 2 daughters. Ivy was also connected to PM Sheikh Hasina’s family as Ivy’s one of the elder sisters was Sheikh Hasina’s sister’s mother in law.
She had always been a bold and an upright woman. She actively contributed for the country and was found whenever there was some turbulence in the political situations of the nation.
Life of “Ivy Rahman” at a glance
Real Name: Jebun Nahar Ivy
Popularly Known: Ivy Rahman, Ivy Apa
Date of Birth: 7 July 1934
Date of Death: 24 August 2004
Father’s Name: Late Jalal Uddin Ahmed
Mother’s Name: Hasina Begum
➢ Founding organizing secretary, Awami League’s Women’s wing, Mohila Awami League
➢ Women Affairs Secretary, Awami League Central Working Committee, in 1978
➢ President, Mohila Awami League, in 1980
➢ Chair, Jatiya Mohila Sangstha
➢ Chair, Bangladesh Jatiya Mohila Samabaya Samity
➢ President, Mohila Samity
➢ General Secretary, Bangladesh Andhakalyan Samity
➢ Member, Mukul Fouz and Girls Guide
Place of Birth: ‘Baro Bari’, Bhairab, Kishoreganj, Bengal Presidency, British India
Place of Death: Combined Military Hospital (CMH), Dhaka
Buried in: Banani graveyard, Dhaka
Education: University of Dhaka
Native Language: Bangla
Married to: Zillur Rahman, 1958–2004
Children: One son and two daughters:
➢ Nazmul Hassan Papon
➢ Tania Bakht
➢ Tanima Bakht
Contribution: Freedom fighter
Jebun Nahar Ivy, or commonly known as Ivy Rahman, was born on 7 July in 1934 in the house named ‘Baro Bari’ of Bhairab upazila of Kishoreganj district, the then Bengal Presidency, British India, currently Bangladesh. Her father, Jalal Uddin Ahmed, was the Principal of Dhaka College. Her mother was Hasina Begum. Ivy was the fifth child of her parents. She had 10 more siblings.
Not much information about her education is found. However, it is known that she was a graduate from University of Dhaka, but from which subject is unknown. While a student, she was an active member and took part in different activities organized by Awami League’s student front, Bangladesh Chhatra League.
Since her student life, Ivy has been involved in politics. She earnestly participated in different movements organized by Awami League student front, Bangladesh Chhatra League. She was an active member in every political activity of Awami League.
In 1969, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibor Rahman established a separate wing under the Awami League party. That was the women’s wing, named as Mohila Awami League. Ivy Rahman served as the founding organizing secretary of that wing.
In 1978, she was selected as the Awami League Central Working Committee’s women’s affairs secretary. After 2 years, in 1980, she was chosen as the President of Mohila Awami League. Until 2002, she had worked for both of those two positions. That is because, in 2002, there was an amendment of Awami League’s manifesto, done by its council. After this, Ivy resigned from the position of President of Mohila Awami League. She was then elected as the women’s affairs secretary of Awami League’s central body.
Additionally, from 1996 to 2001, Ivy functioned as the Chair of Jatiya Mohila Sangstha and Bangladesh Jatiya Mohila Samabaya Samity. Until her death, that is till 2004, she remained the President of Mohila Samity and General Secretary of Bangladesh Andhakalyan Samity.
Incident of the grenade blast:
On August 21, 2004, on the premises of Awami League’s then central office, at Dhaka’s Bangabandhu Avenue, there was a big rally about anti-terrorism. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was the leader or party chief of the opposition party at that time. Sheikh Hasina was delivering her speech standing on the makeshift dias on a truck. Many Awami League women activists including Ivy Rahman participated in that rally. Ivy, being one of the important members of the party and close associate of PM Sheikh Hasina, was standing near the makeshift dias.
Just after PM Sheikh Hasina ended her speech, a group of terrorists threw a series of grenades at the rally, with the aim that grenades would be hurled on the truck-turned-dais targeting Sheikh Hasina, and kill her. However, the grenades missed the target and fell on the ground close to the truck, not on the truck and exploded among the audience closeby. PM Sheikh Hasina and few other senior Awami League leaders fortunately and narrowly escaped the massacre. Within a fraction of seconds, hundreds of people were lying on the ground, covered in an ocean of blood. The impact of the grenades were so powerful that they shredded peoples’ clothes and even tore apart some people’s limbs.
However, among the unfortunate ones, Ivy was also slouched on the road, and had a blood-stained body. She was found lying on the pavement, facedown, as per the witnesses’ statements. One of the women Awami League activists named Rani claimed that after the blasts, she saw that when Ivy was trying to run away after the very first blast, bombs hurled from the ground level hit Ivy which made her unconscious. Both of her legs were smashed by the explosion. An unknown man ran towards her from the alley and picked her up from the ground. Though she was still alive, she was in utter shock and had a blank look. Her both legs were missing from above her knees. When Ivy looked down at her legs and saw a pool of blood and only the flesh, she could not bear it and collapsed instantly. She was taken to a car and rushed towards the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH). The doctors there amputated her legs after they were crushed in the explosions. A three long hour operation was conducted on her to successfully amputate her legs, according to the hospital authority. She was then transferred to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH), Dhaka. She was in a critical condition as she had injuries and wounds in chest and hands. She had lost quite a large amount of blood from body which made her more fragile. She had to undergo another operation at midnight on the same day. She was in the coma for 3 days straight after the injuries. Multiple surgeries were done on those days. She was given a total 22 bags of blood during all these procedures. The then Prime Minister Khaleda Zia went to visit Ivy in the hospital.
The attack was one of the black days in the history of independent Bangladesh. About 22 Awami League leaders and activists were killed and over 500 other people were injured and many of them became crippled for life in the grenade attack.
Ivy’s biggest contribution to the nation was to fight for different movements, especially the liberation war in 1971. Being a freedom fighter, she took part in guerrilla warfare training and made several contributions in the war against the Pakistani occupation forces. Before the liberation war too, she participated in each of the struggles of the country from the forefront.
Furthermore, during the rebellion against Ershad’s autocracy in 1983, she was one of the strongest vocal people to advocate democracy in the country.
Ivy was also meticulously involved in different social activities. She firmly believed and therefore did many campaigns to establish women’s rights as one of the members of Mukul Fouz and Girls Guide.
Throughout her life, she fought against corruption and terrorism. In fact, she even died while protesting against terrorism.
Ivy can be considered a very brave woman because of her history. According to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, “Ivy Rahman had no self-conceit as she always sat with the activists of the party in each of the meetings.” Even the commoners respected and loved Ivy dearly because of her dedication towards politics and the country. After Ivy’s death, the then President of Bangladesh and husband of Ivy, Zillur Rahman said about Ivy “I never knew people loved her so much.” He said so because thousands of mass people joined in her namaz-e-janaza.
In marital life, Ivy Rahman was married to Zillur Rahman, former President of Bangladesh and one of the veteran and frontline leaders of Awami League. They got married on 27 June 1958, when Ivy was 24 years old and Zillur was 29 years old. At that time, Zillur was the then former local government, rural development and co-operatives minister. When Zillur became the President, in 2009, Ivy was no more. Some sources say that the couple first met during the late 1950s in a campaign to advance the Bengali language. Additionally, it is said that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibor Rahman played the role of a ‘matchmaker’ between them. Zillur Rahman loved her passionately as he later remained unmarried till his own death. His love for Ivy was also spotted when he was seen to weep during the burial ceremony of Ivy.
This high-profile lovebirds together had 3 children in total; only one son, Nazmul Hassan Papon, who is currently the president of the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) as well as an MP for the Kishoreganj-6 constituency, and two daughters; Tania Bakht and Tanima Bakht.
Ivy was also connected directly to PM Sheikh Hasina’s family. One of the older sisters of Ivy, Shamsur Nahar Siddique, is the mother-in-law of Sheikh Rehana, younger sister of the PM.
Finally, on 24 August, 2004, 3 days after the grenade attack, Ivy lost the battle with her life. She died at the age of 60. She was still at the intensive care unit of the CMH at the time of her death. At 2:30am, over the telephone, Ivy’s family was informed about her death by the hospital authority. The news was passed to her husband, Zillur Rahman, a bit later; at around 5 am.
After her namaj-e-janaja, and all other burial ceremonies, Ivy was laid to rest at the Banani graveyard on the night of August 25. Thousands of people joined there to pay tribute to her. Even the then US Ambassador to Bangladesh, Harry K. Thomas went to pay his respect to such a bold woman. PM Sheikh Hasina and Zillur Rahman were seen sobbing and weeping tears on that day.
Every year, on the martyr’s death anniversary, PM Hasina still mourns over Ivy’s death and acknowledges Ivy’s outstanding contributions for the country.
Ivy was one of the witnesses of both before and after the independence of Bangladesh’s turbulent political history. Her death had shocked the whole nation as a strong vocal was silenced forever. She had done different activities fearlessly. She always stood upright and fought for establishing women’s rights, and against terrorism and corruption. Future young leaders should follow the ideologies and principles of Ivy and remember her dedication to the country.