Abu Taher

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For the Bangladeshi industrialist and politician, see Abu Taher (banker). For the English journalist, see Abul Taher. For the Buyid ruler of Hamadan, see Shams al-Daula.
Abu Taher
Abu Taher.jpg
Abu Taher
Personal details
Born (1938-11-14)14 November 1938
Badarpur, Assam, Bengal Presidency, British India
Died 30 July 1975(1975-07-30) (aged 0)
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Nationality Bangladeshi Flag of Bangladesh.svg
Political party Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal
Alma mater Murari Chand College
Institute of Social Welfare and Research, University of Dhaka
Profession Military officer, politician
Awards Bir Uttom[1][2]
Military service
Allegiance  Bangladesh
 Pakistan (before 1971)
Service/branch  Pakistan Army
Bangladesh Army seal Bangladesh Army
Years of service 1962–1971 (Pakistan)
Rank 09.lt gen Bd.jpg Colonel

Abu Taher (Bengali: আবু তাহের) (14 November 1938–21 July 1976) was a Bangladeshi military serviceman, decorated war hero, political activist and leader of the left wing Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal.[1]

He was responsible for an uprising which freed army chief General Ziaur Rahman[3][4] After releasing Ziaur Rahman, he was found high treason and murder and executed.[5] In 2011, the Bangladeshi court declared the execution illegal.[6][7]

Early life and education[edit]

Abu Taher was born in Badarpur, Assam Province of British India on 14 November 1938.[8] He is from Kazla village in Purbadhala in Netrokona District of Bangladesh which is his ancestral home. After 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 studied at the Institute of Social Welfare and Research of the University of Dhaka.[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 Liberation War[edit]

Towards the end of August 1971 Taher, along with three other Bengali officers: Maj. Abul Manzoor, Capt. Dalim 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 Bangladeshi Armed Forces (BDF) HQ at 8 Theatre Road. He was promoted to Major and posted to Sector 11 as Sector Commander under General M. A. G. Osmani at Teldhala.[10] Sector 11 was located across the Rangpur District, which comprised Mymensingh District, Tangail District and parts of the Rangpur District. 2 November 1971, Taher lost his leg from mortar shelling by Pakistan Army.[11] Squadron Leader M. Hamidullah Khan was officially appointed Sector Commander of Sector 11 under direct orders through EAM from Colonel Osmani, Mukti Bahini 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 due to the severe shortage of personnel, as many remained stranded in Pakistan, where most were interned as prisoners of war. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and was appointed as the "Adjutant General" of Bangladesh Army. In June 1972 he was appointed as Commander of 44th Brigade at the Comilla Cantonment.[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 led a violent insurgency campaign against the government of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.[13]

7th 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 rescued army chief Ziaur Rahman from house arrest, 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 breach 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 disorder set off by the soldiers' mutiny on the inspiration of Taher had to be suppressed firmly if discipline was to be restored.[5] On 24 November 1975 ordered Taher be arrested on charges of high treason and murder.[13] 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.[16] The trial was considered flawed.[16][17]

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 General Zia's plan.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Habib, Haroon. "Two epoch-making verdicts". thehindu.com. The Hindu. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Editor. "Taher, Colonel Abu". en.banglapedia.org. Banglapedia. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  3. ^ Staff Correspondent. "Zia revived Razakars: Inu". bdnews24.com. 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. The Daily Observer. Retrieved 16 July 2016. 
  6. ^ a b Niloy, Suliman. "‘Zia staged trial to kill Col Taher’". bdnews24.com. bdnews24. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "HC declares Taher trial illegal" bdnews24.com
  8. ^ a b Remembrance. "TWO GIANTS". archive.thedailystar.net. The Daily Star. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  9. ^ News Editor. "Col Abu Taher's biography". bdnews24.com. bdnews24.com. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  10. ^ Star Online Report. "Taher execution an outright murder: HC". archive.thedailystar.net. The Daily Star. Retrieved 20 June 2015. 
  11. ^ Star Country Desk. "Kamalpur, Phulbari tasted freedom on this day in '71". thedailystar.net. The Daily Star. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  12. ^ a b "History of Jatiya Samajtantric Dal". Dhaka Informatix. Retrieved 2 December 2009. 
  13. ^ a b Hossain, Kazi Mobarak (13 March 2016). "Hasanul Haq Inu’s JaSoD splits as he names Shirin general secretary" (2). Dhaka Tribune. Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 11 July 2016. 
  14. ^ "Who Said What After August 15". The Daily Star. The Daily Star. 17 August 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2016. 
  15. ^ Chowdhury, Afsan (8 November 2010). "What really happened in 1975?" (1). bdnews24.com. bdnews24.com. Retrieved 11 July 2016. 
  16. ^ a b Manik, Julfikar Ali. "5th amendment verdict paves way for justice". archive.thedailystar.net/. The Daily Star. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  17. ^ Katsiaficas, George (2013). Asia's unknown uprisings. Oakland, Calif.: PM. p. 270. ISBN 9781604864885. 

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