Abu Taher

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Abu Taher
আবু তাহের
Abu Taher.jpg
Abu Taher
Born(1938-11-14)14 November 1938
Died21 July 1976(1976-07-21) (aged 37)
Cause of deathExecution by hanging
Criminal statusDeceased
Conviction(s)High Treason and Murder
Criminal penaltyDeath by hanging
Personal details
NationalityBangladeshi Flag of Bangladesh.svg
Political partyJatiyo Samajtantrik Dal
Alma materMurari Chand College
ProfessionMilitary officer
AwardsBir Uttom[1][2] Maroon Parachute Award
Military service
Allegiance Bangladesh
 Pakistan (before 1971)
Branch/service Pakistan Army
Bangladesh Army seal Bangladesh Army
Years of service1962–1971 (Pakistan)
RankLieutenant Colonel

Abu Taher (Bengali: আবু তাহের) (14 November 1938 – 21 July 1976) was a Bengali military serviceman, who served in the Pakistani Army, and for a brief period in BDF, from 17 August to 2 November 1971. He was awarded the medal Bir Uttom for his gallantry in the liberation war. After independence, he was inducted into the Bangladesh Army for administrative retirement with the rank of Lieutenant colonel. He turned into a radical political activist and leader of the left-wing Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal.[1]

He was responsible for the 7 November coup which caused severe disruption in discipline and erupted chaos within the rank and structure of the military inside Dhaka Cantonment. Many killings resulted in his instigation.[3][4] After Ziaur Rahman was reinstated as army chief, discipline was reinstated. Many personnel including Taher was found guilty of high treason and murder and executed.[5] However, in 2011, only his trial were declared illegal by the high court leaving his actions intact and punishable.[6][7]

Early life and education[edit]

Abu Taher was born in Badarpur, Assam Province of British India on 14 November 1938.[8] His ancestral village was Kazla in Purbadhala, Netrokona District of Bangladesh. After the completion of higher secondary school from Murari Chand College in Sylhet, Taher joined the Pakistani Army in September 1960 as an officer candidate.[2] He was married to Lutfa Taher.[9]

Military career[edit]

Taher received his Commission in 1962 as a second lieutenant in the Pakistan Army. He joined the elite Pakistan Special Services Group (Commando Force) in 1965.[8] Following his training, he participated in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 in the Sialkot sector of Kashmir. For his part, he received a war participation medal from the Pakistan Army. After the war, Taher took officers pre-qualification course on guerrilla warfare at Fort Benning in the United States in 1969. He was posted to the Quetta Staff College, Pakistan in 1970.[2]

Bangladesh War of Independence[edit]

Towards the end of August 1971, Captain Taher, along with three other Bengali officers: Capt. Patwari, Maj. Manzoor and Capt. Ziauddin defected from the Pakistani Army and crossed over the border near Abbottabad, West Pakistan, into India.[2] After two weeks under Indian intelligence screening and debriefing, he was sent to Bangladesh Armed Forces (BDF) HQ at 8 Theatre Road, Calcutta and subsequently posted to Sector 11. He was promoted to Major in September . Major Zia appointed Taher as Sub-Sector Commander No. 2 at Mahendraganj.[10] Sector 11 was located across the Rangpur District, which comprised Mymensingh District, Tangail District and parts of the Rangpur District. On October 10, upon Major Zia's temporary transfer to the Sylhet sector, Major Shafayat Jamil handed over the interim command of the sector to BDF. Sector 11. On 2 November 1971, Taher lost his leg from a small mine blast during a debriefing.[11] Squadron Leader M. Hamidullah Khan was officially appointed Sector Commander of Sector 11 under direct orders through EAM from Colonel Osmani, Bangladesh Interim Provincial Government Headquarters. Taher was flown to Pune, India. On 21 November Taher received a Medical Board Release. His leg was later amputated there, where he remained until February 1972. For his valour, he was awarded Bir Uttom.

Post-war activities[edit]

Following his return, Taher was reinstated into the Bangladesh Army in April for effective retirement following administrative procedure. He was retired with a legacy entitlement rank of Lieutenant Colonel and hence is widely known as Colonel Taher.[2]

Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal[edit]

Due to his left-leaning communist ideas of organizing the Bangladesh Army along the lines of the People's Liberation Army, he resigned from the army to form the Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal,[12] with

The Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal had split from the Bangladesh Chhatra League, the student wing of the Bangladesh Awami League and called for establishing socialism through an armed revolution. Taher became the head of its armed wing, the Gonobahini and led a violent insurgency campaign against the government of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.[13]

7 November coup[edit]

Abu Taher welcomed the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 15 August 1975, remarking,

They've made a big mistake. They shouldn't have allowed Sheikh Mujib's burial. Now a shrine will be built there. His body should have been thrown into the Bay of Bengal.


Taher quickly took advantage of the chaos following the assassination, exacerbating dissent among ranking non-commissioned officers and regular soldiers.[12] Taher incited and organized an uprising of the soldiers on 7 November 1975. Together with Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal leader Hasanul Haq Inu, soldiers loyal to him tried to takeover Bangladesh Radio and also to remove Ziaur Rahman from cantonment, in order to facilitate a Marxist takeover of power.[15]

Some revenge killings took place of a number of military officers and their wives due to incidents dating back to injustices that occurred during the independence war in 1971.[4] Acts of treason and clear serious breaches of military discipline and morale followed.[5] As chief of Staff, Major General Ziaur Rahman, worked to bring down the acts of treason and mutiny, after his release.[5]

Trial and execution[edit]

Once Ziaur Rahman retook charge of the army, he realized that the soldiers' mutiny had to be suppressed if discipline was to be restored.[5] On 24 November 1975, he ordered Taher be arrested on charges of high treason and murder.[16] Taher was tried by a military tribunal inside the Dhaka Central Jail and sentenced to death on 17 July 1976. He was executed by hanging on 21 July 1976.[17] The trial was later considered flawed.[17][18]

High Court ruling[edit]

On 22 March 2011, the High Court overturned the previous judgement that authorised Taher's execution by a military tribunal while the nation was under martial law. The military court judgement was declared illegal.[7] The court observed Taher's execution had happened according to Major General Zia's plan.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Habib, Haroon. "Two epoch-making verdicts". The Hindu. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e Hossain, Md Anwar (2012). "Taher, Lieutenant Colonel Abu". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  3. ^ Staff Correspondent. "Zia revived Razakars: Inu". bdnews24.com. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  4. ^ a b Newton, Michael. Famous Assassinations in World History: An Encyclopedia. United States of America: ABC-CLIO, LLC. p. 455. ISBN 9781610692861.
  5. ^ a b c d e Ahsan, Syed Badrul (7 July 2015). "Bourgeois dreams of socialist revolution". The Daily Observer. Retrieved 16 July 2016.
  6. ^ a b Niloy, Suliman. "'Zia staged trial to kill Col Taher'". bdnews24.com. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  7. ^ a b "HC declares Taher trial illegal" Archived 30 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine bdnews24.com
  8. ^ a b "Two Giants". The Daily Star. 14 November 2013. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  9. ^ "Nerakona: Lutfa Taher MP, spouse of sector commander late Col Abu Taher and JSD (Inu) central leader Mukllesur Rahman Muktadir addressing the biennial confeence of JSD (Inu), Netrakona disrict unit at local public hall yesterday". The New Nation. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Taher execution an outright murder: HC". The Daily Star. 20 May 2013. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  11. ^ "Kamalpur, Phulbari tasted freedom on this day in '71". The Daily Star. 8 March 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  12. ^ a b "History of Jatiya Samajtantric Dal". Dhaka Informatix. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 2 December 2009.
  13. ^ Hossain, Kazi Mobarak (13 March 2016). "Hasanul Haq Inu's JaSoD splits as he names Shirin general secretary". bdnews24.com. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  14. ^ "Who Said What After August 1 5". The Daily Star. 17 August 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2016.
  15. ^ Chowdhury, Afsan (8 November 2010). "What really happened in 1975?". bdnews24.com. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  16. ^ Hossain, Kazi Mobarak (13 March 2016). "Hasanul Haq Inu's JaSoD splits as he names Shirin general secretary". bdnews24.com. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  17. ^ a b Manik, Julfikar Ali (25 August 2010). "5th amendment verdict paves way for justice". The Daily Star. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  18. ^ Katsiaficas, George (2013). Asia's unknown uprisings. Oakland, Calif.: PM. p. 270. ISBN 978-1-60486-488-5.

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