Islam breathed his last around 2:30 pm on Tuesday at Evercare Hospital, his son Barshan Islam said. Rafiqul Islam was initially admitted to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University with abdominal pain.
Doctors found water had accumulated in his lungs. He was undergoing treatment at the chest diseases department under Dr AKM Mosharraf Hossain’s supervision.
The family wanted to take Rafiqul to India but he refused. Barshan said his father was later taken to Evercare Hospital.
Rafiqul Islam, one of the most revered researchers on Kazi Nazrul Islam, was the first director of the Nazrul Research Centre.
The linguist actively participated in the Language Movement in 1952. He also captured rare photographs of that time and portrayed that history in his writings. He wrote about 30 books, including the first book on martyred intellectuals and the first book on the centenary history of Dhaka University.
A former vice-chancellor of the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh, Islam had once served as director-general of the Bangla Academy. He was made the national professor by the government in 2018.
He received the Independence Award, Ekushey Padak and the Bangla Academy Literary Award for his excellence in the field of academia and culture.
The government appointed him as the president of Bangla Academy in May 2021 for three years.
This year, he was awarded the International Mother Language Award for his contribution to the preservation, rejuvenation, development, practice and promotion of Bangla.