November 7: The Conspiracy in the cantonment to assassinate freedom fighter army personnel

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Published on November 7, 2021
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A chaotic situation erupted in the Dhaka cantonment on November 7, 1975, just after midnight. The members of Colonel Taher's revolutionary military men became active in response to the call of the then army chief Ziaur Rahman, also a patron behind Bangabandhu’s assassination. The soldiers, who returned from Pakistan, started killing and carried out looting under the leadership of Bangabandhu's killer Major Mohiuddin. This is a nasty chapter in the history of the Bengali nation.

After the August 15 barbarism, the initiative taken by the patriotic army officers on November 3 to save the country from the hands of Bangabandhu's assassins, died untimely. Thirteen army officers, including a female doctor, were killed in infernal violence. Three famous freedom fighter army commanders were also brutally killed on the morning of November 7. Ziaur Rahman then acquitted the killers and declared himself chief martial law administrator and later president. The anti-independence activists began rehabilitating across the country. The spirit of the Liberation War was ruined in the dust, extremism and fundamentalism emerged in the land of Bangladesh.

Ziaur Rahman's blueprint & brutal massacre in the cantonment

After the assassination of Bangabandhu and his family, the killers were spending their leisure time in Bangabhaban. But at the same time, the senior army officers of the cantonment tried to bring back the chain of command in the army. CGS Khaled Musharraf, 46 Brigade Commander Safayat Jamil and Brigadier Nuruzzaman called on Army Chief Ziaur Rahman to take action against the killers. But Ziaur Rahman did not do anything to bring killers back to the cantonment. He even disagreed to go for any action against them. Failing to persuade the army chief, the senior army officers later tried to do something on their own.

Following this, army officers and members, loyal to Khaled Musharraf, Shafayat Jamil, ATM Haider and Huda, besieged Bangabhaban and house-arrested Ziaur Rahman at midnight on November 2, 1975. Under their pressure, Bangabandhu's killers were forced to leave the country the next day. But in the meantime, four national leaders Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, AHM Kamaruzzaman and HM Mansur Ali were secretly killed in the Dhaka Central Jail by the assassins of Bangabandhu. After the killers of Bangabandhu left the country, the coup officers were perplexed to know the information.

The coup members, after the brutal assassination of Bangabandhu and his family, were looking for a way to bring back the turbulent state system and the spirit of the Liberation War. At the same time, army chief Ziaur Rahman, house-arrested, was spreading conspiracy. He used retired Colonel Taher who was in his dream of socialism. Taher distributed provocative leaflets in the cantonment through members of his revolutionary military forces. Ordinary soldiers were enraged against the army officers. The chain of command got shattered in the cantonment and chaos began all around. Soldiers, mainly Pakistan returnees, became embroiled in a hellish massacre.

Ziaur Rahman showed his nature when he made his stronghold in power though he took the help of Taher to get released from house arrest. After killing the heroic captains of the Liberation War, he also executed Taher accusing him of the entire responsibility for the chaos in the cantonment. As politics is banned in the cantonment, it was very easy for Zia to put Taher in danger.

Shameful tie between Bangabandhu's killer Mohiuddin and Ziaur Rahman

Tensions erupted in front of the Second Field Regiment in the cantonment on November 7, 1975, just after midnight. Bangabandhu's assassin Major Mohiuddin of field regiment became active with the agitated military soldiers. On the night of August 15, he fired six-seven rounds of artillery at Dhanmondi Road 32 residence. Though all the murderers of Bangabandhu left the country, they left Mohiuddin in the country for some special reasons. He kept regular contact with Ziaur Rahman and stayed in the cantonment following the incident. It was this killer Mohiuddin who freed Zia from house arrest and took him to the Field Regiment.

Then Ziaur Rahman provoked the agitated soldiers present, as a result of which they gradually became brutal. Most of these soldiers were returnees from Pakistan. No battalion member of the Bengal Regiment participating in the Liberation War joined them. Their infernal brutality killed 13 army officers, including a female doctor that night. They also killed the wife of Sector Commander Abu Osman Chowdhury.

On November 7, one of the Sector Commanders of the Liberation War and Chief of K Force Khaled Musharraf, another Sector Commander and one of the initiators of the Crack Platoon Lt Colonel ATM Haider, and Sub-Sector Commander and Agartala Conspiracy Case accused Col Huda were brutally killed under Ziaur Rahman’s instruction.

Later, November 8 was declared the day of National Solidarity and Revolution to thwart the investigation and trial of the notorious murder. This is an inhuman step of Ziaur Rahman. At the same time, the people of Jasad tried to call it Soldiers’ Revolution Day.

However, titles written by several military officials about the November conspiracy and massacre suggested that there were no consequences of the November 7 incident outside the capital. There was no revolution anywhere in the country. No one expressed solidarity. Even not all the soldiers were involved in looting the homes of army officers and brutal torture and killing of their family members. None of the Bengal units who participated in the Liberation War took part in the massacre.

BNP's brutality and political sickness on November 7

Some leftist parties have also been observing the day as 'Military Revolution' in a bid to cover up their historical mistakes and weaknesses. Colonel Taher and his comrades made a mistake by stepping into the trap of Ziaur Rahman and they had to pay the price for that ambition with their own lives by Zia. Even after independence, the way they raised the slogan of revolution and instigated millions of promising young people, their dreams were shattered overnight after that political mistake. To avoid the responsibility of betrayal with the activists and supporters, to cover up their own political mistakes, they are using the day of the brutal death of the country’s best army commanders as a shield.

On the other hand, the dictator Ziaur Rahman made his power strong by relying on the November 7 massacre. He laid the foundation of the ‘Pakistanization’ of Bangladesh using his soldiers and blood of freedom fighter officers and their family members. He also honoured those involved in that massacre with different posts in different places. Even he stopped the trial of those who brutally killed the heroic fighters of the Liberation War.

Therefore, Zia directed to observe this day as 'National Solidarity and Revolution Day' with political colours. The BNP-Jamaat alliance has been celebrating this day regularly. But it is, in reality, a shameful day in the history of the Bengali nation. It is a day of mourning.