DHAKA: Stirring a controversy, a lawmaker of Bangladesh’s Jatiya Party has claimed that its leader, the ex-military dictator Hussain Muhammad Ershad had killed former president Ziaur Rahman in 1981.
“Ziaur Rahman was killed by (the then army chief) General Ershad and not General Manzur” as is widely believed, Mr Nasim Osman, was quoted as saying by the ‘Samokal’ newspaper.
Mr Osman’s comments came at a function in his suburban Narayanganj constituency and reportedly surprised the audience present.
Mr Osman also justified the killing of Rahman, an army general-turned politician who floated the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), in an abortive coup on May 30, 1981, as he had ‘masterminded’ the 1975 assassination of Bangladesh’s founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
“Bangabandhu murder trial was actually done on May 30, 1981 with the killing of Zia (Ur Rahman) as he was the man behind the killing of the Father of the Nation,” he said. Mr Osman’s family is known to be a strong supporter of the ruling Awami League and one of his brothers is a former ruling party lawmaker.
“Do you know why I’m in Jatiya Party of Ershad? It’s because the work I was to do, was done by him (Ershad as he had killed Rahman),” he said.
Ershad, whose Jatiya Party is now a crucial ally of Awami League, hung up the phone when he was approached for comments by PTI. His press secretary and party secretary general also kept their phones switched off apparently to evade questions from newsmen.
Ershad took over power in a bloodless coup months after Rahman’s assassination in an abortive army putsch. 12 army officers were hanged under a controversial court martial following the coup. The main suspect, Major General Abul Manzur, was killed allegedly by angry soldiers soon after the putsch.
The leaders of BNP, which is now headed by Rahman’s wife Begum Khaleda Zia, in private discussions allege that Ershad was the killer of the ex-president. Zia, at least once, has publicly accused him of killing her husband. Hasina and her party leaders too in oblique references frequently accuse Rahman of killing Bangabandhu. They also accuse the subsequent regime of Ziaur Rahman for enacting a controversial indemnity law, which had protected Sheikh Mujib’s killers.