Plan to remove Gen. Ziaur Rahman from the army

Government wanted to post Maj Gen. Ziaur Rahman as defense attaché to Barman.

We were still deployed in aid of civil power. One day I got a call from Capt. Nur who conveyed that Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman wanted to see me urgently. He further said I should not see him at the office but at the residence. I got the hint that some thing serious has happened. Usually I used to meet him at the residence to discuss important and serious matters. I came to Dhaka to see him. We initially discussed on the over all situation then he broke the main subject. He said,

"I hear that I am going to be sent out from the army as Defense Attaché to Burma very soon. Did you hear any thing?" I got shocked.

What is he saying? Sheikh Mujib himself promised to make him the next Chief of staff. Then? I replied,

"I have no knowledge of this whatsoever. But what may come you can not leave. We can not afford to loose you at this stage".

"Well then try to do something about it." Maj. Gen. Zia said.

"Ofcourse Sir. I shall try. I am going to see the Prime Minister today". I said.

"Let me know what happens". Maj. Gen. Zia said.

"Right Sir," I replied and came out from his residence.

Same night I went to Road No. 32. The leader was not back yet. I was passing time talking to Sheikh Rehana and Sheikh Zamal. Zamal informed that he was proceeding either to Sandhurst or Yugoslavia shortly for army officer’s training course. After hearing the news I said,

"That’s a good news". Should you like it then no harm to make army as your carrier".

A little letter Sheikh Kamal returned from some where. Seeing me he asked,

"Boss what’s up?"

"No one perhaps visit Road No. 32 with out some purpose isn’t it?" At my counter question Kamal was a bit embarrassed.

"No what I meant was that although most people come with some purpose but exceptions are also there. As yourself is one. You come only to fight with Abba", Kamal said. In reply I said, , "One who cares has a right to fight".

"Ofcourse! indeed! We do understand that. Now Boss give me some advice". Sheikh Kamal said.

"About What?", I inquired.

" I have a scholarship to study Law in Canada. I am in a dilemma what to do should I go or should I not". Kamal said.

"If you ask me it is a good and a brilliant idea. Our beloved prophet has said if necessary go as far as China to gather knowledge. Beside, it is a matter of two to three years only. Time will just fly. Had I got a chance like this I would have definitely garbed it". I said to him. After listening what I said he said, "Then you think that I must go".

"Absolutely correct you must avail this opportunity". I replied. At that point of time someone came looking for Kamal and took him away.

The Leader came back home late. After a while I was called.

"It has been a longtime. How are you and what is the matter?" Sheikh Saheb opened the conversation.

"I came on an official duty so I came to pay my regards to you". I said. He was smoking his pipe.

"Chacha, is it true that you have decided to send Maj. Gen. Zia as the Defence Attache to Burma?" I asked.

"Not yet decided, but some one has to be sent to Burma. Shafiullah said Zia has intelligence back ground." I interrupted,

"There are many other officers who are also intelligence qualified. Send one of them, Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman is too senior for that post. Moreover, if you send him out from the army then every body will think that you don’t want to keep up your earlier promise and that is why maliciously you are sending him out. That will be embarrassing for you.

Already there exist resentment in the army due to certain reasons that you are aware of. Now such a decision will just add fuel to the fire. There may be an outburst. Would that be good for the government?"

Sheikh Mujib carefully listened to me while smoking his pipe. Did not say a word. Suddenly he changed the topic.

"How is every thing with you?" He said.

"As you can see". I replied.

"You don’t understand one thing. In party politics one can not be reasonable all the time. You must consider my position. I have to run the country as well as look after my party". Sheikh Saheb said.

"Chacha, I am not a politician. Your experience about party politics is enormous. I have no knowledge whatsoever, but even then I feel the good old philosophical saying has got some relevance even now and can be a pointer as well". I said.

"Which one you are referring to?" Sheikh Saheb asked.

"That one. As it is said, the party is above individual and the country is above the party". Taking the advantage of his jovial mood I dared to speak out.

"Did Zia sent you?" He went back to the earlier topic.

"Why Zia should send me. You had promised to me, So I have come to you to know the facts after I heard the rumor." I replied.

"If I have done anything wrong please forgive me". I added.

"That’s ok. I understand. You may leave now. I am expecting some visitors". Sheikh Mujibur Rahman said. I came out after taking leave from him.

The next day I conveyed to Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman all that transpired between the Prime Minister and me and came back of Comilla.

Whether it was our meeting or any other reason Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman finally was not sent to Burma. Col. Nurul Islam Shishu was sent instead. Col. Islam was very happy at this posting. There was a good reason for his happiness. During the liberation war Capt. Shishu left the battle front and joined Mujibnagar headquarters with the plea that he suffers from heart palpitation. After the independence suddenly one day Capt. Islam got vanished from 27 Minto Road headquarters. On the third day when he did not return Gen. Osmani became furious. He ordered Capt. Salahuddin then incharge of the army intelligence to find out Capt. Nurual Islam Shishu the deserter. We knew Shishu Bhai was not interested in service any more but Gen. Osmani will also not leave him at that stage and that is what had prompted Capt. Islam to run away. However, he was persuaded to rejoin the headquarters. This very Nurul Islam Shishu later became a general in the army and became well known as the ‘Rajputin’ of Bangladesh.

We all became concerned at the initiative taken by the government to send out Gen. Ziaur Rahman. Although he survived this time, it became clear that the government is active and bent upon weakening the patriotic and nationalist forces within the army. We have already lost Col. Ziauddin, Col. Taher and Maj. Jalil. Maj. Gen. Zia and many others might be sent out from the army with some excuses. We held discussion on this matter among ourselves and had also discussed with different political circles and likeminded people. Almost every one expressed the view, that none of the patriots, nationalists and out spoken officers would be retained in the army. Gradually they would be thrown out under some pretext or the other. Only those would be kept who would give their personal loyalty and allegiance to Sheikh Mujib and BKSAL. And then at a given point of time this army would be merged with the JRB and in turn that would become the national army as planned. All government actions were aimed towards that inevitability. We decided that we should try to get as much information as possible in this regard and shall closely watch every action of the government.