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7Nov-The BNP celebrates Nov 7 as the ‘national revolution and solidarity day’.

The party’s Acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir has threatened a ‘mass uprising’ against the present government to force it to bring back the caretaker system on this date.

He has said the uprising will be ‘imbued with the Nov 7 spirit’.

But Fakhrul seems to have missed out on the strange twist of history in a bid to look for a right moment to threaten an uprising.

Because Nov 7, 1975 bears a few very uncomfortable skeletons for BNP’s founder late General Ziaur Rahman and would be no day to celebrate for those who adore him.

That day in 1975 marked the culmination of a sepoy mutiny of sorts, not a mass uprising involving citizens looking for democracy.

The slogan of the mutiny was: “Sepoy Sepoy Bhai Bhai, Officerer Rakto Chai” (we sepoys are brothers, we want the blood of the officers).

The soldiers in the mutiny were rescuing their army chief by deposing and killing another aspirant.

This was no revolution, just a bitter power struggle.

The mutiny was led by the charismatic Colonel Abu Taher, a 1971 sector commander like Zia, who he helped come to power, and Geneal Khaled Musharraf, who he deposed and who was killed by the rebellious soldiers.

Nov 7 thus brings back the memories of an era of mutinies that the Bangladesh army would like to forget and leave behind, as it emerges as a disciplined professional force called so often to do UN peacekeeping duties.

Especially in the week which finally meted out death penalty to 152 BDR troopers for killing their officers four years ago.

Bangladesh’s military is determined to put a lid on its legacy of bloody mutinies.

Taher was a radical socialist in his leanings and strongly advocated the cause of setting up of a ‘people’s army’ instead of a large standing army which he felt was not needed for a poor nation like Bangladesh.

He read Vo Nguyen Giap and Che Guevera — something that military officers in the sub-continent rarely do.

Taher was the man behind the Nov 7 mutiny.

Taher had been a real war hero for his exploits in 1971 liberation struggle but on Nov 7, he was leading one group of soldiers against another in a fratricidal strife.

Ziaur Rahman was freed by Taher and took charge as army chief.

He did not do anything on Nov 7 except thanking his stars for being freed.

But then came the biggest surprise.

The very man who had freed him and re-installed him as army chief was hauled up before a military court, tried and hanged for spreading disaffection in the army.

The High Court has recently described the execution of Abu Taher through an order of a military tribunal in 1976 as ‘outright murder’. It says the hanging of Taher was ‘illegal’ and a case of ‘cold blooded assassination’.

It has directed the government to try those who were involved with the so-called trial, if any of them are still alive.

The verdict was passed by Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury and Justice Sheikh Md Zakir Hossain in May this year.

In the judgment, the High Court cited portions of BNP leader Moudud Ahmed’s book to suggest that Ziaur Rahman had formed the military tribunal to sentence Col Taher to death in order to satisfy army officials who had returned from Pakistan.

Earlier, the High Court had observed the trial and execution of freedom fighter Col Taher in 1976 was masterminded by the then chief martial law administrator, Maj Gen Ziaur Rahman.

Without getting into a debate over these observations made by the High Court, one can safely say Zia was a beneficiary of a Taher-led uprising but there was no way Taher could have been hanged without Zia’s design and consent.

Five years later, Zia was himself killed in another mutiny.

But the ghost of Nov 7, of betraying a naive socialist-leaning commander who had helped free him, and sending him to the gallows in haste, remains a blot on Zia, both as a man and as a ruler.

This is the ‘legacy of blood’ that author Anthony Mascarenhas describes in his bestseller by the same title.

Bangladesh has seen many a mass uprising over the decades since it was East Pakistan.

Fakhrul should not have a problem looking for dates to inspire an uprising his party seems to be planning to bring down Sheikh Hasina from power.

But Nov 7 is not one of those.

There was no mass uprising involving citizens on that day.

And the real hero of Nov 7 was Abu Taher.

By hanging Taher for ’spreading disaffection’ in the army, Ziaur Rahman himself undermined and trampled on the legacy of Nov 7, a date his wife declared as a public holiday after taking over as Prime Minister.

History, they say, is both used and abused.
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Syed Bashir is a bdnews24.com columnist.

27 Responses to “Strange legacy of Nov 7”

  1. imran chowdhury

    Dear Sir
    Thanks for a massive write up and where you are trying to emphasise on colonel taher – I have no knowledge as to why he should be hailed as hero

    i am not going into the taher zia fued nor their death.
    I am interested in one fact ; that is , how do you feel about taher and his brothers and JSD to ask the other ranks to take up arms against the officers

    why was there a big rush to do that?
    why the need to abolish the bat man system so impotant
    when there were only less 3000 officer who had 3000 batmen but at the same time there were perhaps 6 -7000 JCo’s who had more than 7000 batmen

    was it ok for taher to instigate sepoys to kill the officers?
    was there really an issue of supression in the army by the officers towards their other ranks?
    do you think that precedant of sepoys to pick up arms against the officers have encouraged the |BDR speoys to kill all thosr 57 officers?

    do you think after that kind of a intigation taher is still a hero?

  2. Anwar A. Khan

    Dear Mr. Bashir :

    I thank you very much for presenting a nice article on November 7 revolutions of 1975. Col. Taher was a true patriot and a person of high morality and principles. That’s why, he had to walk for the gallows falsely framed out by President Zia to exterminate a true hero of our nation.

    Zia was purely responsible for dividing the nation which was once unified. No body did want those who collaborated with the Pakistani army and carried out genocide …..to be reinstalled politically in the country. Neither was there any demand or call by the people for them to be rehabilitated. But General Zia did show that much of audacity allowing these morally reprehensible people to do politics in the country for which we had to pay a very heavy price to achieve Bangladesh.

    President Zia freed those abominable charactered people who were served various terms of imprisonment for their misdeeds and those who were in jails waiting for punishments. Some bigwigs including that malevolent Golam Azam fled away the country whose citizenships were scrapped; some of them were hiding for their improper, wicked or immoral behaviour and to our utter shock, Zia took all initiatives to bring those back to the country and returned their citizenships except Golam Azam but he came back to the country with Zia’s support being a Pakistani citizen holding the Pakistani passport during his regime and Golam Azam got back his citizenship during Begum Zia’s first tenure of government.

    Zia made Shah Aziz, a collaborator of Pakistan Army, as prime minister of the country. Similar way, he made Abdul Alim a cabinet minister, who committed genocide and other higher magnitude of criminal offences in 1971 for whom ICT-2 today handed him down the life term imprisonment.

    Begum Zia did the same disgraceful thing. She made another 2 ill-famed Al-badr commanders and mass murderers of our independence war, Matiur Rahman Nizami and Ali Ahsan Mujaheed as her cabinet ministers.

    In both cases, there was no political leadership crisis in the country. Had they been human being, humane and had least respect towards the supreme sacrifices of our people in creating this country, they would have shunned this harmful path. In fact, there was no need for them to take these mischief-mongers to rule the country.

    The damages thus they both have caused to the country, its people and its polity is irreparable and at the same time unpardonable. One should call them sub-humans because of their cruel love for the country.

    Bangladesh has been created to run its course strictly in line with the values and spirit of our liberation war and there should be no compromise in this regard. If any people are found not commensurate with these qualifications but want to rule us, I must say they do not belong to Bangladesh; they do not own this country or the country does not own them.

  3. Lipika Rahman

    Because of erosion of values amongst the vast majority of our population, the political divide in our soil has reached such a high degree of intensity that the truth is not being told in an intentional manner on most cases. Because BNP is a political party born in an illegitimate way and Zia did set up his party spending money lavishly from the government exchequer, using all government spy agencies and government departments ( I have also seen so many similar comments elsewhere in this esteemed online newspaper).

    We can not and shall not forget his contest being Chief of Army Staff in his framed out ‘yes and no’ vote being a lone candidate to stay in power as President of the country and we also should not forget that in that voting, he received the number of votes more than the country’s total votes. How farcical it was! How immoral it was!

    Zia was arrested and put him on the house arrest by a group of soldiers from his own army in 1975. He might have lost his life during that time. But it is Col. Taher who freed him from that complex, critical or unusual difficult situation. Being freed from captivity, he said to Col. Taher : “Taher, you have saved my life for which I am grateful to you. I am now under your full control; whatever orders you will make to me, I shall obey them.” But look what he did to Taher! Zia forgot everything so hastily, made a farcical military trial against Taher and hanged him. It was a treacherous act in its enterity carried out by Zia.

    After Bangladesh came into being, the betrayers of our independence war, mass murderers, rapists, looters and arsoners were put in jails; some were undergoing due punishments in the jails; and some were facing trials. Mujib was brutally murdered in 1975. Zia freed them unilaterally and at his personal whims to defame and belittle our costly flag, our country and our people which we achieved through a bloody war.

    Colonel Abu Taher was the architect of 7th November revolution. Zia became a villain. Zia’s skullduggery and savagery knew no bounds. The fallen politicians (better term them as political prostitutes) and people of riff-raff characters have flocked together in BNP. So, nothing sort of noblesse oblige is desirable from it, its leaders and its allies. We must realise it.

  4. ishtiq

    Such an ugly alteration of history where Taher is said a Charismatic leader and Zia a sector commander!! It was Taher whose plan was to kill all the officers and he just wanted a free ride on Zia’s popularity. Now Zia is being blamed for the army officer killing that time. The man who killed so many officers by slogan,”Sepoy Sepoy Bhai Bhai, Officerer Rakto Chai” would have been hanged by any court in world.

  5. Akteruzzaman

    The sepoy mutiny did not succeed because it did not have a command structure. Gen Zia was very popular with the soldiers and officers of the infantry and he had a good command even under house arrest. The mutiny of BDR did not last for more than two days because of the same reason. In a guerilla army there are no officers, but they have a good command structure. The mutiny history of Bangladesh army is not so good; refer to Wikipedia history.

  6. Reaz Shaheed

    As someone who lived in Dhaka Cantonment and was an eye-witness to the carnages, chaos and (I daresay) anarchy that swept through the entire institution of Bangladesh Army on the early hours of November 7, 1975, it is difficult to call the day anything but one of solidarity or even revolution. Any officer worth his salt who survived the event, would regard the night as probably the most humiliating and demeaning chapter in his career. Without delving in to the political implications of the event both before and after November 7, I believe marking this day even in posterity shows what a how confused and misled a nation could be.

  7. Sanowar Ashraf

    Why are we so preoccupied with whatever happened on November 7, 1975????? Why are we so baffled???? Isn’t it just another manifestation of a naked truth about mankind? Humans are traitors by nature!!!! That’s what we have been seeing from one generation to another..as the genes are getting transferred…..remember what happpend during polashi war of Nawab Serajaddaulah?

    We have incidents like this taking place all over the world! Sometimes in our family…to take over property..sometimes at our office to increase our odds of a possible promotion…sometimes at the national level…

    The genetic engineers must come up with a solution to get rid of the gene that is responsible for such act… meanwhile we can try to increase the moral values of our future generation…everyone has to play a role, parents…teachers…the ppl who make songs..movies and stuffs..everyone!

  8. Komar Mahmud

    It is true Taher with the help of his non commission officer brother staged the sepoy revolt. But Thaher and Inu of JSD asked the rebelling soldiers to kill all officers in Dhaka cantt to instill fear in the remaining officers. For starters, he handed the address of lady doc officers to the killing squad and told them killing female will have bigger impact. Few female physician army officers lost their life at at hands of the killing squad. Country spend huge amount on money to train on each of these female and male doctors victims on thaher order.

    In the meantime Zia was rescued by other soldiers when the rebellion spread. Thaher’s brother approached these soldiers
    to kill Zia because he is an officer too. But soldiers protecting
    Zia made it clear that he their leader not Thaher. Some of the soldiers from Thaher changed their loyalty to Zia and informed him of the plan to eliminate officers in Dhaka. Thahers brother hurried to Taher.

    Plan changed but too late, Zia already had upper hand by now. He
    asked the soldier to not to take orders from thaher or his brother.

    Later when taher met zia he expressed his willing spare zai but not others and he want him on his side. Inu in the mean time went into hidding. Zia ordered to arrest Taher and his brother and put a end to killing. Rest is the history we all know.

  9. Abdus Salam

    The writer has expressed the historical facts as it unravelled. Ziaur Rahman can best be described as someone who to promote his own self used others and thereby betrayed the interest of Bangladesh.

  10. Khondkar Abdus Saleque

    November 7, 1975 is another dark day following November 3 and August 15th . Several innocent army officials were killed and traitor exploited the opportunity. I met a NCO of Artillery Corp in his Canberra Residence who was in the Jeep that rescued Zia from captivity. He told me the way Zia eliminated those who saved his life . Future government must try to probe into November 7 incidents .

  11. N.Khan

    What Syed Bashi has written is a statement on historical facts which ,as for I who had seen from relatively close quarter,cannot be overlooked & in fact episod one after another started revealing.The death of Col.Taher is the result of last power struggle between him & Gen(later Predsident)Zia.Col.Taher was a man of different mettle who,imbued with the ideas/philosophy Giap or Che was in favour of a revolutionary/people’s(not a regular)army to be used both for defence & for collective works in the field.Gen.Ziafound in him one,opposed to traditional concept of army to which he belonged & also one likely to be contender for the leadership of the Govt.In addition,Gen.Zia had the advantage being in the govt holding the highest post of the Army.

  12. Tarin

    Col Abu Taher faced what the military law for creating fractions among the army units which common sense dictates is wrong. Just becuase he freed Ziaur Rahman does not absolve him of his anti state crime of dividing and inciting hatred among the army units! Simple sense. If he was not hanged, hindsight says the history of army mutiny would have been even more brutal and damaging for the army as well as Ziaur Rahman for leting go of a anti state army personnel.

  13. Tanvir Ahmed

    i don’t think we need to discuss the facts of this story. but writer mentioned the contributions of colonel taher during 1971 war several times. but he didn’t care to mention general zia’s role in the war. i don’t know what to say about this writer’s perception, neutral or biased?

  14. Shahriar

    Col. Taher was rightfully hanged by Zia. He was nothing more than an opportunist and a traitor. Many officers were killed by the sepoys for his so called “revolution”. He should not be celebrated but kicked to the dumpster of history where he rightfully belongs.

      • Tarin

        Seems like someone is promoting anti-Zia!! How else do u treat a person who caused frictions among the army personnel? promote him to army chief’s post or make him a prime minister?? If he was let go, he would have created another political platform to jeopardise the already fragile situation! Nuthing else!

      • rehman

        @Dr.rajib,shame on you,it simple to know from history(unbiased).all officers of that period still alaive,you can try to know the fact.

  15. Populist

    The writer’s analysis is simplistic and looks to malign the image of President Zia.

    • Dr. Rajib

      @Populist..Mr Syed’s analysis is very simple indeed. However, could you please point out if there is any inaccurate information in there?

    • ball

      very nice simple writing. telling that zia has hanged the very man who freed him is not maligning the image if zia, it is stating fact. truth shall set us free.

      • rafiq

        @ball,writer is a biased one who maligned image of hero of loberation war.this is our bad luck,we think narrowly.zia was saved by taher it is fact but he did not betrayed with the country.he saved the country from more turmoil.

    • Uddin

      So… Why don’t you write the complex story and tell us WHAT realy happened on Nov7 and how Gen. (Rambo) Zia saved the day…

    • raqib

      100% correct.zia saved the country,where army got out from chain of command,which inspired by col.taher and jsd leaders.

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