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14 November 1938|
Badarpur, Assam, Bengal Presidency, British India
|Died||21 July 1976
|Political party||Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal|
|Alma mater||Murari Chand College|
Pakistan (before 1971)
|Service/branch|| Pakistan Army
|Years of service||1962–1971 (Pakistan)
He was responsible for an uprising which freed army chief General Ziaur Rahman After releasing Ziaur Rahman, he was found high treason and murder and executed. In 2011, a Bangladeshi court declared the execution illegal.
Early life and education
Abu Taher was born in Badarpur, Assam Province of British India on 14 November 1938. 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.
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. 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.
Bangladesh Liberation War
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. After two weeks under Indian intelligence screening and debriefing, he was sent to Bangladeshi Armed Forces (BDF) HQ at 8 Theatre Road, Calcutta. He was promoted to Major and posted to Sector 11. Major Zia appointed Taher as Sub-Sector Commander No. 2 at Mahendraganj. Sector 11 was located across the Rangpur District, which comprised Mymensingh District, Tangail District and parts of the Rangpur District. On 2 November 1971, Taher lost his leg from a mine blast during a debriefing. 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.
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 went on LPR(leave per retirement).
Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal
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.
7 November coup
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. Taher incited and organized an uprising of the soldiers on 7 November 1975. Together with Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal leader Hasanul Haq Inu, soldiers loyal tried to takeover Bangladesh Radio and also to remove Ziaur Rahman from house arrest, in order to facilitate a Marxist takeover of power.
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. Acts of treason and clear serious breach of military discipline and morale followed. As chief of Staff, Major General Ziaur Rahman, worked to bring down the acts of treason and mutiny, after his release.
Trial and execution
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. On 24 November 1975 ordered Taher be arrested on charges of high treason and murder. 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. The trial was later considered flawed.
High Court ruling
On 22 March 2011 the politically inclined 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. The court observed Taher's execution had happened according to Major General Zia's plan.
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