The force was never with late president Ziaur Rahman.
DUCSU was then under BNP’s student wing Chhatra Dal (JCD) control, so was majority of the dorms of DU. JCD was overwhelmingly single largest students’ party at DU campus. At that time, when two new dorms were built at DU, they were named Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Hall and Muktijoddha Ziaur Rahman Hall.
Today, Prothom-Alo gave single column 3 inches bottom of first page treatment to Zia’s death anniversary and the news item started this way, “Ex-President, Sector commander and Z force leader Ziaur Rahman’s…”.
With these exceptional nice treatments, the very powerful journalist-intellectual-academia Force of Bangladesh, in addition to a big chunk of the general population, carry and promote a very predictable deeply rooted image of Zia.
To this half of the country,
1. Zia, an army general and military dictator is the killer of democracy in Bangladesh.
2. Zia allowed re-establish Jamaat in Bangladesh.
3. Zia killed many freedom fighter army officers including Col Taher, Khaled Mosharraf etc.
4. Zia was a ruthless in suppression of press freedom.
The force, passion behind this accusation is so intense that the supporters of Zia were gratified when Zia was generously donated the title of a freedom fighter by the same force which promoted the above mentioned allegations against Zia.
On the face of intense passionate propaganda against Zia, a mere recognition of him as a freedom fighter was enough for Zia sympathizers and silent supporters.
This phenomenon is probably one of the most vivid examples of the theory “Offence is the best defense”. Faced with relentless offence of Zia hater’s, it was impossible for zia supporters to protest, “Zia is not only a freedom fighter. He is definitely a leading general of our war of independence, but more importantly, he is the father of Bangladeshi nationalism”.
In fact, as there can not be any row over Bangabandhu being the father of our independence and the nation, there can also be no question about Zia being the father of our nationalism.
26 years after Zia’s death, Zia envisioned Bangladeshi, not Bangabandhu’s Bangali nationalism, is deeply rooted in Bangladesh. The nation has already decided their nationalistic identity. Bangabandhu was the proponent of Bangali nationalism. But even his grand son and political heir apparent, Sajib Wajed Joy identifies himself as Bangladeshi.
And the very strong force in Bangladesh which is represented in Prothom -Alo or which decided DU dorm to be named as Muktijoddha Ziaur Rahman hall, is afraid of acknowledging this very fact. They know what Zia actually is, hence their concerted effort of hiding the father of our nationalism behind only an unknown freedome fighter.
And for the same reason while half of Bangladesh know and believe above 4 accusations against Zia, most of the nation do not know/ remember the followings,
1. When Zia came to power there was nothing called democracy in Bangladesh. With 4 th amendment of the constitution, there was one party rule. Except the government party, all other parties including AL were disbanded.
Over the next four years, under Zia’s rule, multiparty democracy was re-established in Bangladesh; all the political parties like AL, CPB, NAP etc, except Jamaat, got back the permission to float again. Jamaat had to wait until Ershad regime to get registration.
2. When Zia came to power, there was nothing called press freedome. On June 16th of 1975, all newspapers in Bangladesh were closed and 4 newspapers were brought under government ownership.
Again under Zia’s watch, all the newspapers started publishing.
3. Zia never led any coup. In fact when Col Taher launched the coup of 1975, Zia was under house arrest. It was Col Taher who kind of forced Zia into taking over (as per Col Taher’s own writings). Martial law was already in effect. And even on gun point Zia declined to become the chief Martial law administrator (CMLA). At that point at Zia’s insistence, Brig Khaled Mosharraf appointed titular leader, ex CJ justice Sayem was named the CMLA and Zia along with Air Force and Navy Chief became DCMLAs.
4. Khaled Mosharraf, Col Haider, Col Huda etc were killed by Col Taher’s forces as Zia was released from house arrest and when he was bogged down at Dhaka Cantonment trying bring discipline back at least at Dhaka Cantonment.
When Zia took over the helm of the country in 1975, fixed the ‘chain of command’ less army, started building Bangladesh he was only 39 years old. The day he was killed he was just 45.
The irony is that his son, at same age of 40, still claims himself young blood, play cricket seiging the whole city. While Zia earn popularity of whole Bangladesh with his relentless hard work, honesty, integrity; his son earn public hatred in the same lightning speed by resorting to all the loafer like activity and endless immature political arrogance.
More irony is that what the powerful group could not do in their 26 years of intense campaign against Zia, that is now being done by his own blood, his sons. Finally, thanks to his sons activities, Zia’s strong hold on the hearts of the silent majority in Bangladesh is loosening.