Military coups in Bangladesh
Part of a series on the
|History of Bangladesh|
Bangladesh has undergone several changes of government since its independence.
The 15 August 1975 Bangladesh coup d'état was a military coup launched by mid ranking army officers in Bangladesh on 15 August 1975. The officers planned to remove the secular government of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with an Islamic government led by Khandaker Mushtaque Ahmed. Sheikh Mujib and most of his family members were killed in the coup.
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.
The 7 November 1975 Bangladesh coup d'état was a coup d'état launched by right wing army personnel in collaboration with right-wing politicians from Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal. The coup killed Khaled Mosharraf who had removed those involved in the Assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from power. The coup also freed Ziaur Rahman from house arrest and allowed him to eventually seize power and become president.
Failed Attempts 1977 to 1980
Led by radical leftist 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. Loyal soldiers of the army killed Khaled Mosharraf and his associates. News about Mosharraf's affiliation with India 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 nation.
Ziaur Rahman survived as many as 21 assassination attempts beginning since the war of Independence in 1971. He was killed in the final attempt by army officers on May 30, 1981. Assassination attempts were being conspired by at least one outside nation. Many facts and rumours abounded. From 30 September 1977 till 2 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 which 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, after 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 2,500 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 Hussain Muhammad 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, started to distance himself from the civilian 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 army. 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 along with 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 removed 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
This section does not cite any sources. (February 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
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 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
This section does not cite any sources. (July 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Army Chief Lt. Gen Moeen U. Ahmed staged a military coup on 11 January 2007 in Bangladesh. The military-backed Caretaker Government (CTG) was formed outside the constitutional provisions. Fakhruddin Ahmed made head the government. President Iajuddin Ahmed had to run the presidency at gun point during said army rule.  Lt. Gen. Moeen upgraded the Army Chief of Staff's rank to General. Moeen extended the rule of the CTG for two years while his tenure for one year as army chief without lawful authority, in the absence of regular elected government following receiving NDC being the Lt. General and army chief which is designed for Lt. Colonel level officer. The coup has ended as of in 2008 after the military government held a parliamentary election in December 2008 and transfer of power was handed over to the Awami League, who won 230 seats in parliament.
2009 Bangladesh Rifles revolt
The Bangladesh Rifles revolt was a mutiny staged on 25 and 26 February 2009 in Dhaka by a section of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), a paramilitary force mainly tasked with guarding the borders of Bangladesh. The rebelling BDR soldiers took over the BDR headquarters in Pilkhana, killing the BDR Director-General Shakil Ahmed along with 56 other army officers and 17 civilians. They also fired on civilians, held many of their officers and their families hostage, vandalised property and looted valuables. By the second day, unrest had spread to 12 other towns and cities. The mutiny ended as the mutineers surrendered their arms and released the hostages after a series of discussions and negotiations with the government.
2011 Bangladesh coup d'état attempt
The 2011 Bangladesh coup d'état attempt was a coup planned for 11–12 January 2012 that was stopped by the Bangladesh Army in December 2011. This was announced at a press conference on 19 January 2012. The purpose of the coup was to establish Islamic law in Bangladesh. A number of officers including retired ones were arrested. The coup plotters argued that they were nationalists trying to prevent Bangladesh from being turned into a puppet of India.
- Abu Taher
- Assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
- Hasanul Haq Inu
- Hussain Muhammad Ershad
- Sheikh Hasina
- Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
- Liton, Shakhawat (15 August 2016). "Shame darker than the night". The Daily Star. Archived from the original on 12 October 2020. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
- "Aug 15 in world media". The Daily Star. 19 November 2009. Archived from the original on 12 October 2020. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
- "Death at Night". Time. 8 June 1981. Retrieved 10 September 2006.
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. 30 May 1981. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
- Ahamed, Emajuddin (2012). "Rahman, Shahid Ziaur". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). 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 2 June 2007. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
- বিডিআর জওয়ানদের বিদ্রোহ নিহতের সংখ্যা ১৫ বলে দাবি * মহাপরিচালক শাকিল বেঁচে নেই * জিম্মি কর্মকর্তাদের পরিণতি অজানা. Prothom Alo (in Bengali). 26 February 2009. p. 1. Archived from the original on 27 February 2009. Retrieved 25 February 2009.
- "Bangladesh guard mutiny 'spreads'". BBC News. 26 February 2009. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
- "Bangladesh guard mutiny 'is over'". BBC News. 26 February 2009. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
- অবশেষে আত্মসমর্পণ. Prothom Alo (in Bengali). 27 February 2009.
- "Major Zia used UK mobile SIM to talk to officers". The Daily Star. 21 January 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
- "Involvement of 'parties' under probe". The Daily Star. 28 February 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
- "Delhi 'tip-off' helped foil coup". The Telegraph. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
- "Turbulent house". The Economist. 28 January 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
- 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.