Abdur Rahman Biswas

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Abdur Rahman Biswas
আবদুর রহমান বিশ্বাস
11th President of Bangladesh
In office
10 October 1991 – 9 October 1996
Prime Minister Khaleda Zia
Muhammad Habibur Rahman (acting)
Hasina Wazed
Preceded by Shahabuddin Ahmed (acting)
Succeeded by Shahabuddin Ahmed
Personal details
Born (1926-09-01) 1 September 1926 (age 89)
Shaistabad, Barisal, Bengal Presidency, British India
(now in Bangladesh)[1]
Political party Bangladesh Nationalist Party
Alma mater University of Dhaka
Religion Sunni Islam

Abdur Rahman Biswas (born 1 September 1926) was the 11th President of Bangladesh during 1991 to 1996.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Biswas was born in the village of Shaistabad, Barisal District. He was educated at Dhaka University, where he received history degrees a BA with honors and a MA in history and a degree in law. His subsequent public service included chairing a local cooperative bank and sponsoring educational initiatives.[1]

Political career[edit]

Biswas was elected as a representative to the East Pakistan Legislative Assembly in 1962 and 1965. In 1967 he represented Pakistan at the UN General Assembly. Bangladesh held general elections in 1979, in which Biswas obtained a seat in its parliament (Jatiyo Sangsad). He held posts in its ministries. His seat in the parliament was confirmed during a 1991 election and soon afterwards he was chosen as Speaker of the Parliament.[2]

His tenure as President of the Caretaker government of Bangladesh saw challenges from the military; according to Banglapedia he dealt with these challenges 'firmly' where he sacked army chief Lt. Gen. Abu Saleh Mohammad Nasim.[1]

Coup in 1996[edit]

Lt. Gen. Nasim staged an abortive military coup in 1996. On 19 May 1996, Abdur Rahman Biswas, during a caretaker government, ordered Lt. Gen. Nasim to force the retirement of Major-General Morshed Khan, commander of Bogra Cantonment, and Brigadier Miron Hamidur Rahman, deputy chief of paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles.[3] Both officers had issued statements expressing dissatisfaction with the country's situation.[4] The President believed that they were involved in political activities with opposition parties. General Nasim refused to comply. The next day, Biswas sacked him and sent soldiers to control the state radio and television stations. On noon that day, General Nasim ordered soldiers of Bogra, Jessore and Mymensingh divisions to march towards Dhaka.[5] The Ninth Infantry Division's Major General Imamuzzaman, who commanded the division located closest to Dhaka, remained loyal to the President. He directed the removal of all boats and ferries from Jamuna River in Aricha port, so that Bogra and Jessore divisions could not cross the river.[6]

He sent a contingent of troops with tanks to blockade the Dhaka-Mymenshing highway. This prevented Mymensing Division Army from entering Dhaka. In the meantime, Major General Mohammad Anwar Hossain, General Officer Commanding of the 33rd Infantry Division located in Comilla, also came to the aid of the president. He mobilized a fully geared 101 Infantry Brigade, under the command of Brig. Shah Ikram (later Maj. Gen.) to Dhaka to fortify Bangabhaban, the presidential palace.[7] The 33rd Division was deployed, using an Infantry Battalion and a company of tanks from the 7th Horse Armoured Battalion at the Dhaka-Chittagong highway, to create a blockade against the 24th Infantry Division located in Chittagong. The government broadcast announcements asking all soldiers to stay at their own cantonment. After some hours, Mymensingh Division soldiers returned to their barracks. The Chittagong Division never mobilized towards Dhaka. The General Officer Commanding of the Chittagong Division realized that the military coup was highly unlikely to succeed. That night General Nasim was interviewed by the BBC and, in reference to troop movements, he said that as Army Chief, he could move troops anytime he wanted. General Nasim was arrested by the Brigade Commander of 14 Independent Engineers Brigade and put under house arrest in the Army Mess behind Army Central Library, Staff road, Dhaka Cantonment. Later the Awami League government, which was elected to power in 1996, granted him a formal retirement.[8]

See also[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Shahabuddin Ahmed
President of Bangladesh
Succeeded by
Shahabuddin Ahmed


  1. ^ a b c d Helal Uddin Ahmed. "Abdur Rahman Biswas". Banglapedia. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Liton, Shakhawat. "Khaleda follows in BNP founder Ziaur Rahman’s footsteps". thedailystar.net. The Daily Star. Retrieved 27 June 2015. 
  3. ^ Unknown. "Dhaka Faces Revolt". themoscowtimes.com. The Moscow Times. Retrieved 21 June 2015. 
  4. ^ Ali, M.M. "Shaikh Hasina Takes Over From Khalida Zia in Successful Bangladesh Election". wrmea.org. American Educational Trust. Retrieved 21 June 2015. 
  5. ^ Dahlburg, John-Thor (21 May 1996). "Bangladeshi President Fires Army Chief". articles.latimes.com (Los Angeles Times). Retrieved 21 June 2015. 
  6. ^ Report. "BANGLADESH TENSE AFTER ARMY CHIEF'S FIRING". washingtonpost.com (Washington Post). Retrieved 21 June 2015. 
  7. ^ Article (20 May 1996). "Bangladesh's Army Chief Fired". articles.chicagotribune.com (Chicago Tribune). Retrieved 21 June 2015. 
  8. ^ "Bangladesh ex-army chief arrested". upi.com. United Press International, Inc. Retrieved 21 June 2015.