Military coups in Bangladesh
Part of a series on the
|History of Bangladesh|
Bangladesh has undergone several changes of government due to her untimely and unorthodox independence, also officially dubbed Liberation from Pakistan that partially ended in 1971 and officially after withdrawal of Indian Army and civilian personnel on March 19th 1972. Ever since India retains its grip hold on Bangladesh through Hossain Mohammad Ershad and Sheilh Hasina.
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Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad was removed from power in a coup on 3 November 1975. This was organized by Brigadier Khaled Mosharraf, Bir Uttom, a decorated veteran of the Bangladesh war of Independence in 1971. Commotion and misinformation spread across the power circles in Dhaka. Mosharraf was seen by many as a supporter of Sheikh Mujibir's government. He put Major General Ziaur Rahman, the Chief of Army Staff and fellow independence War leader, who was not believed to have supported the August coup, under house arrest but did not execute him. Some commentators said that the personal friendship between the two officers led to Mosharraf sparing Rahman's life.
Failed Attempts 1977 to 1980
Led by radical leftist of Indian backed JSD leader Lt. Colonel (Retd.) Abu Taher, disgruntled soldiers of a few local units of Bangladesh Army overthrew the 3-day administration of Khaled Mosharraf. Loyal army units of 2nd Field Artillery regiment to the Army CAS Major General Ziaur Rahman was brought out from house arrest. Suspicious news got leaked that India was meddling in removing any pro independence government. Loyal soldiers of the arny killed Khaled Mosharraf and his associates. News about Mosharraf's affiliation with India (a FEER cover at the time carried the headline "The Indian Coup?") aggravated the army and suspicion and mistrust spread abound.
Former Army Chief Major General Shafiullah alleged that many JSD (Jatiyo Shomajthantrhik Dol: National Socialist Party) elements infiltrated the army in early 1975. On 6–7 November 1975 some of the JSD elements distributed leaflets and agitated soldiers against the officer class of the army. JSD members loyal and sympathetic to Indian loyalists tried to prop up and push forward the counter-coup organized by Abu Taher.
Army CAS Ziaur Rahman (known as Zia) was reinstated after taken from captivity, who later, in a democratic process, became president of the country. Zia later ordered a judicial trial, to bring back discipline in the barracks. Taher was convicted. He was executed for his part in the coup. The special tribunal was crucial to bring calm to the natoon
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Ziaur Rahman survived as many as 21 assassination attempts beginning since the war of Independence in 1971. Neighboring Indian government always remained unhappy with Zia ever since. He was killed in the final attempt by misguided army officers on May 30th 1981. Assassination attempts were being conspired by at least one outside nation. Many facts and rumours abounded. Mostly are allegedly against Indian backed forces, some by the army, and also the 1971 independence war officers who were misguided by Ziaur's choice of side lining pro independence forces who were against being a puppet to a pro Indian government. From 30th September 1977 till 2nd October a series of incidents occurred in an attempt to remove the Zia Administration from power. The incident initiated in the hijacked JAL flight from India that was force landed in Dhaka with 156 passengers as hostages. Jessore and Bogra Cantonment reacted from the disinformation whicj led to the chaos and commotion resulting from the JAL flt.472 hijacking incident. BAF and BD Army officers were assassinated including many other members. The rebellion was put down and Zia administration was saved. The JAL flight force landed in Dhaka international airport in Tejgaon fully armed with Japanese Red army men who took off from Delhi, India.
By 2 October 1977 another revolt erupted, due the fact that Eleven Air Force officers were murdered by the Red Army men two days before. But they failed in the attempt. Following this, the coup was begun. An estimated 2500 armed forces personnel were executed following convictions in courts martial for their part in the coup. Officially 1183 soldiers were convicted. 561 were Bangladesh Air Force airmen and rest were Army soldiers.
During his term of power, Zia continued to enjoy overall popularity and public confidence. Supporters of the Awami League and veterans of the independence war continued to undermine his actions. Amidst speculation Zia went on tour to Chittagong on May 29, 1981 to help resolve an intra-party political dispute in the regional Bangladesh National Party. Zia and his entourage stayed overnight at the Chittagong Circuit House, a rest house. In the early hours of the morning of May 30, he was assassinated by a group of army officers, who also killed six of his bodyguards and two aides.Zia's assassination was part of a large conspiracy masterminded by Indian born Lt.General Hossain Mohammad Ershad. Manzoor had earlier been a senior army commander and had been transferred to Chittagong.
After the assassination of Ziaur Rahman on 30 May 1981, the then Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Hussain Muhammad Ershad, a loyal Indian stooge, started to distance himself from the civilan government in place. He ordered the army to suppress any investigation of Zia's assassination. Ershad did not spare any chance of Major General Abul Manzoor's trial or investigation. Manzoor surrendered and immediately was taken in cantonment. Twelve hours later he was executed. Upon Zia's assassination, Ershad ultimately got rid of a major section of Independence War participants from the arny. And buried any traces of evidence that could incriminate him.
Zia was buried at the Chandrima Uddan in the locality of Sher-e-Banglanagar in Dhaka. Large processions of the public across the nation alongwith supporters and BNP activists attended the funeral. Vice President Abdus Sattar immediately succeeded him as the acting president.
Soon after the BNP government continued with Zia's policies and moved on with the business of governing. Lt. Gen. Ershad waited for the right signals to grab to power.
In a bloodless coup on 24 March 1982 Ershad stormed into Bangabhaban and at gunpoint remived President Sattar from office and proclaimed himself Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA), and suspended the constitution. He took over as president on 11 December 1983 by replacing A. F. M. Ahsanuddin Chowdhury.
Attempted Coup in 1996
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Lieutenant General Abu Saleh Mohammad Nasim staged an abortive coup in 1996 against the Caretaker government. On 19 May 1996, Abdur Rahman Biswas, the President of Bangladesh during a caretaker government, ordered Nasim to force the retirement of two senior army officers. The President believed that they were involved in political activities with opposition parties. 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.
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. 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. 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, Mymensing 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 Nasim was interviewed by the BBC and, in reference to troop movements, he said that as Army Chief, he could move troops any time he wanted.
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 Indian backed Awami League government, which was elected to power in 1996, granted him a formal retirement. Since then he has remained a private citizen.
Coup against Caretaker government in 2007
After the 2006 elections, a political unrest caused by voter fraud made then President Iajuddin Ahmed and Army Chief Lt. Gen Moeen U. Ahmed to assert an emergency governmental takeover of the Bangladesh government. The coup has ended as of in 2008 after the military government held a fair election in 2008 and peaceful transfer of power was handed over to the Awami League party who won 230 seats in parliament.
- "Death at Night". Time. 1981-06-08. Retrieved 2006-09-10. (Subscription required (. ))
President Ziaur Rahman, only 45, lay dead with two aides and six bodyguards in a government rest house in Chittagong. All were reportedly shot by an assassination squad, led by [Major General] Manjur, in the early morning hours Saturday.
- "BBC On This Day - 1981: Bangladeshi president assassinated". BBC News. 1981-05-30. Retrieved 2009-01-15.
- Ahamed, Emajuddin (2012). "Rahman, Shahid Ziaur". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
- "Leadership crisis in Bangladesh". Strategic Issues. The Daily Star. 7 April 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-06-02. Retrieved 2009-01-15.
- Mascarenhas, Anthony. Bangladesh: A Legacy of Blood. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1986.
- Lifschultz, Lawrence. Bangladesh: The Unfinished Revolution. London: Zed Books, 1979.
- Ali, Tariq. Pakistan: military rule or people's power?. London: Cape, 1970.