General Ershad finished what Zia started in 1975: corrupt the social and political institutions and establishment of militarism by progressively undermining the civil leadership and civic society in Bangladesh. In this regard both of them were true successors of the Pakistani military dictator, Gen Ayub Khan.
Date of birth
|Education||BA (pass course) from Rangpur Carmichael college. Commissioned from Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul|
|Family background||Settler (Mohajir) from West Dinajpur in India after 1947|
|Wife||1. Official consort: Begum Rawshan 2. Mariam in UK 3. Zinat Musharaf (travel partner) 4.|
|Son||Loafer and kidnapper (nurture beats nature)|
|Political guru||Pakistani General Ayub Khan|
|Guru behind political power||Blind Peer (Andha Hafiz) of Chittagong|
|Network associate||Atrashi Peer|
|Toughest sexual rival||Aziz Mohammad Bhai|
|Power manipulation||Since 1980|
|Rise to power||1982|
|Deposed from power by mass movement||1990|
Like Zia, Ershad came of a Mohajir( settler, Mohajir or colloquially called Ghati in Dhaka) family. His father, a solicitor by profession migrated to Bangladesh from West Dinazpur, India after 1947.
But Ershad was less fortunate than Zia. He could not afford a freedom fighter tag as he was in Pakistan during the liberation war. Ershad did not leave his job in Pakistan army in support of Bangladesh. Nor did he show any interest to sympathize with our liberation war. Rather, he worked as a member of the firing squad formed by the Pakistani military dictators to execute Bangalee rebel officers/soldiers in Pakistani army. Due to his absence in the political scenario he lost his seniority. Later however, due to the blessing and lobbying of Gen Osmani, Ershad got his job back in Bangladesh army.
In the political coup bringing the downfall of Zia, Ershad won the game by shrewdly eliminating his rival Gen Manjur (a bright officer of Bangladesh army and a freedom fighter). But Ershad was more power drunk than Zia. As the chief of army he started threatening from the cantonment and captured the political power by sheer military force. Soon after the consolidation of his power Ershad concentrated on the militarization of the civil administration. He formed a powerful committee headed by Brigadier Enamul Khan to reorganize the administration. Four, out of five, members of that committee were retired army officers. This committee minimized the number of posts in various ministries and corporations from 3,255 to 2,873. The primary objective of the committee was to exercise more control on civil administration by appointing more army officers on higher positions so as to subordinate the civil administration to military bureaucrats.
After administration, Ershad targeted the municipal corporations. Ershad, by his presidential order, appointed a colonel as the mayor of Dhaka city. Then a brigadier, and at last a politician. In the name of decentralization the Dhaka municipal corporation was divided into 10 zones. The chief executive officers of five, out of ten, zones were retired majors. It was done with a view to undermine peoples' representatives in the city councils and allow the military officers to appropriate public resources.
The third state sector for Ershadi contamination was the foreign ministry. Ershad appointed 11 retired generals and two retired brigadiers as ambassadors in different Bangladeshi missions overseas. As Zia rewarded the assassinators of Sheikh Mujib with high positions in Bangladeshi embassies, Ershad offered his loyal army majors (14) foreign service positions for the same reasons: help him consolidate his power and being used by him as his dirty hands.
To stay in power and to secure absolute power, Zia first started manipulation of the election system. Ershad literally destroyed it. In the Upazilla election of 1985, Ershad's party won in 200 centers by means of armed violence carried out by Ershad' musclemen and 8 people (government report, hundreds in reality) were killed. Only 25-30% voters attended that election. The election of 1986 scored the highest record for terrorism.
Ershad spread corruption in all spheres of society so much so that it became the only valid norm of all (social/economic/political) transactions. Few instances:
1. On 24 May 1983, the customs authority seized a large consignment of wristwatches (17,006 pieces) worth of Tk. 10,000,000 imported for the department of defense. The army intelligence took the concerned customs officer, Mr Abdur Rouf, for interrogation. Mr. Rouf died mysteriously. He was obviously tortured to death. The government spokesmen ordered all the newspapers to publish only the government press release about Mr. Rouf' death. Mrs. Rouf was offered a sum of 100,000 taka as compensation. She refused to take the money.
2. According to a statistics report of 1989, 22 persons or groups appropriated 50% of the total loans for industrialization. Those 22 persons were close associates of Ershad.
3. In 1985 one third of the total wheat (10,000,000 tonnes) received under the " food for work" project was appropriated by the members of Ershad's political party.
4. In 1987-88 Tk. 80,000,000 was appropriated by Ershad's sycophants from TCB in the name of importing cotton.
5. In 1988 Tk 30,000,000 was appropriated from the Japanese donations for purchase of rescue vessels for rescue and protection against flood and natural disasters.
6. According to an annual report of the commercial banks in Bangladesh there were 869 10 Million Taka (1 Koti) accounts in different private banks. In 1988 the number of accounts with such large amounts were 687. So Ershad patronized 182 millionaires (Kotipati) to grow in one year. This figure shows the rapid expansion of corruption during Ershad regime. Ironically his slogan for seizing political power was " to stamp out corruption from society". Zia had the same slogan. Pakistani general Ayub Khan was their guru as he set the trend a decade ago.
7. Zia rehabilitated the war criminals and the anti liberation political elements in our society. Ershad allowed them to establish political (and ideological) hegemony. Mimicking Pakistani constitution, Zia added bismillah in our constitution. Ershad declared Islam as the state religion and made Bangladesh an Islamic republic. With this Ershad completed the mission of his predecessors: Zia and Mustak.
8. To secure his political power Ershad used the networks of Islamic spiritual gurus (peers). He was an official disciple of the Atrashi peer. Ershad's visit of Atrashi peer and various mosques was a regular ingredient of BTV news. For international (mainly US) connections he liased with the mysterious blind peer of Chittagong (Colonel Farooq and Rashid saw this peer on 14 August to receive green signal for killing Sheikh Mujib the next day--Anthony Mascarenhus- Bangladesh a Legacy of Blood) .
9. Ershad rejuvenated the Madrasa (Jesuit model of Islamic schools) education and sanctioned millions of dollars (financed by Saudi Arabia and Iran) to build new madrasas countrywide.
10. He also stressed that Islamic history and Islamic studies be the compulsory component of school /college curricula. Ershad also funded the largest and most destructive fundamentalist newspaper "The Inquilab". The Inquilab was instrumental to several communal riots and the third biggest Hindu exodus:
a. First Hindu exodus took place in 1947 when most cultured and wealthy Hindu families left East Pakistan for India. To our national regret and causing the cultural bankruptcy of Bangladesh families of Ray, Jyoti Basu, Nirad Chowdhury, Amartya Sen, Sunil, Shirshendu, Suchitra Sen, Susmita Sen to quote a few, left Bangladesh for India in 1947)
b. Second Hindu exodus took place in 1971 during the war of independence as the Pakistani occupation army in association with the anti liberation forces (Muslim leaguers, Jamatis and other Islamic fundamentalist groups) killed the prominent Hindu elites, confiscated their properties forcing them to emigrate to India. The anti liberation forces killed all prominent Hindu elites such as proprietor of Shadhana Ausadhalay (Gandaria Dhaka), proprietor of Kundeshwari Ausadhalay (Chittagong) and the only millionaire (kotipati) of East Pakistan Mr Ranada Prasad Saha (Mymensingh). These leading Hindu elites owned worldwide business chain like Pfizer or Fisons and were mentors of numerous cultural and educational institutions in Bangladesh (90% of the total educational and cultural institutions in Bangladesh were founded by wealthy Hindu patrons). Hindus were the primary target for both the Pakistani occupation forces and their local collaborators. The ruthless elimination of even the wealthy Hindus terribly frightened the Hindu community in Bangladesh and consequently the solvent Hindus left their beloved country during the war. Only the desperately patriotic Hindus (who dared death for the land of their birth) and the poor Hindus (having no choice) clung to the burnt soils of their motherland.
c. The Third Hindu Exodus took place during Ershad regime. As instigated by the Inquilab (Jamati newspaper) Islamic fundamentalist groups and Ershad's hooligans attacked and damaged Hindu temples around Dhaka city. The chaos spread so much so that in rural areas cottages of Hindu families were burnt. Due to this communal unrest several hundreds of remaining Hindu families left Bangladesh for India or converted into Christianity for protection by international aid organizations.
11. In contrast to Zia (who had a frozen relationship with his wife due to her confinement by a Pakistani army officer in 1971), Ershad was an ardent womanizer. Ershad maintained illicit relationships with wives (pretty ones) or sisters of all of his close associates, film and TV stars, and ambitious business women of Dhaka society. His blessed ten women were famous in the secretariat and the business circle of Dhaka as they controlled trade licenses and contracts for big businesses. The sex starved Bangladeshis despises Ershad for his reproductive inabilities but secretly admires (or fantasizes) his excessive sexual indulgences.
Anti Ershad procession by all party students' union: 90
|Shahzahan Seraz||Tazul Islam||Zahid Hossain (Ullapara college)|
|Advocate Moyez Uddin||Zainal (Shishu Academy)||Zafar (Shishu Academy)|
|Akhtar||Shahadat||Nazir Uddin Jehad (10 Oct 90)|
|Munirazzaman (Tezgaon Polytechnic )||Dr Shamsul Alam Khan Milan (1990)||Nur Hossain (10 Nov 1990)|
1. Muntassir Mamoon: Democracy in Bangladesh: Elements of Consensus and process.
2. Muntassir Mamoon: Je deshe Razakar Bara
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