While giving the verdict on the legality of the punishment of Colonel Taher, the high-court bench of Justices Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Zakir Hossain declared that the whole trial process was illegal and it was in fact a cold blooded murder of Taher by Late president Ziaur Rahman.
What high-court did to come to this conclusion? They interviewed one shoddy journalist character Lawrence lifshultz, who is a political follower of Taher’s communist doctrine. Other interviewed are also 1. Political opponents of Ziaur Rahman’s political platform 2. Supporters of ruling party who took it as their prime job to destroy Zia’s image 3. Political followers of Colonel Taher. Even the judges who delivered the justice, are publicly known nemesis of Ziaur Rahman’s ideology and are former leaders of socialist political platform based on Taher’s doctrine. And this is probably the first court proceeding in Bangladesh history where an witness could simply deliver his opinion via e mail to a third person. There was no ‘balai’ of oath taking, cross examination etc.
Before we go further into what these two judges did and what their judgment means, lets see what Taher in fact did back in early 70s.
1. Taher revolted against the then Awami League government of Sheikh Mijibur Rahman and formed and led an armed force called ” Gonobahinee”. Thousands and thousands of Awami League activists, leaders as well as general people were killed by the armed force. Any literature describing Mujib era Bangladesh will give testimony of the atrocities of Taher’s Gonobahinee.
2. While all other sector commanders were being promoted in the army as Brigadier/ Major General and who in turn helped rebuild the army, Taher was sacked from Bangladesh army by Mujib Government. ( It is unclear what Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik had to say about this cold blooded sacking of ‘war hero’ Taher).
3. Many sources, well informed of the political military dynamics of 1975, say that it was Taher who was more likely to kill Mujib and there was an invisible race among Taher’s group and Faruq Rashids group in who would kill Mujib first. After hearing of the massacre of 15th August, most observers’ first suspicion was on Taher.
4. Taking the advantage of unstable situation of Bangladesh, Taher’s forces ( a select group of armed anti state forces including Taher’s brother Bahar) attacked Indian High Commission in Dhaka in an attempt to kill India’s high commissioner in Dhaka, Mr Samar Sen. Although Samar Sen survived with bullet wounds in his back, Police force guarding India’s high Commission shot and killed four members of Taher forces ( Including Taher brother Bahar).
5. About his 7th November coup this is what Taher himself said to the court that tried him,
In the above statement Taher comes down hard upon Major General Khaled Mosharraf. He also probably acknowledge being involved in his killing when he says that ‘when these cowards was begging for their lives on bent knees?’ Who were begging for their lives to him?
6. About 7th November he clearly claims that he conducted the coup and overthrew a government. He says this in the following statement,
The same judiciary which is all gung ho in coming down upon Ziaur Rahman for grabbing power by martial law, the same court which keeps on declaring power takeover by coups illegal every other day and takes yet another bite at Ziaur Rahman, suddenly has a change of heart in exonerating Taher’s military takeover that ultimately put Ziaur Rahman in power.
7. Taher clearly states that he requested martial law and he wanted Zia to be CMLA of the martial law and Zia declines to be CMLA.
8. What Taher really wanted to do?
In the above statement made to the court, he explains that he wanted to dismantle the tradition armed forces of Bangladesh and created a revolutionary forces. How many of our new generation Taher followers know what Taher’s plans meant? Do Justices Manik and Zakir know of Khmer Rouge of Cambodia? Do they know the history what Pol Pot did to the country in the name of peoples’ army run revolution of production? ( If anyone disagrees with above, we sure can have a lengthy academic discussion on the meaning of scientific socialism.)
Or in more recent history, would Nepalese military dismantle to pave the way for the Maoists to take over as peoples’ army?
9. The violent coup/ communist indoctrinated uprising that Taher staged, caused the lives of at least sixty members of armed forces ( Officers and their family). Among those killed included war hero, war time K force leader Khaled Mosharraf, war hero Col ATM Haider, war hero Col Saiful Huda. All of them were killed at the then military garrison at Sher e Bangla Nagar. Sher e Bangla Nagar happened to be the HQ of the rebel forces led by Taher. None of these war heroes were killed in a matter of minutes. They were all arrested, kept in the garrison at least nearly a day before being killed. It is impossible to believe that Taher was not aware of these high profile killings by his forces. But for the sake of debate, if one agrees that Taher was not aware of those killings, can Taher absolve himself of the responsibility of the murder of Khaled Mosharraf and 60 other? On many occasions, he claimed that he staged the mutiny. How can the leader of a mutiny can be exempted of the atrocities caused by a mutiny? Judge Manik et el are so passionate about correcting history, what about trial of the killers of Khaled Mosharraf and sixty others? One name comes again and again in relation to murder of Khaled/ Haider. i.e. Captain Jalil. Did our high-court bothered to summon Captain Jalil and ask him some question?
10. Pilkhana is fresh in our memory. The atrocities committed by BDR sepoys are despicable. A massacre was committed, rapes, loots, arson were indiscriminate. Bodies were burnt and buried in mass graves. Is there any scope of letting the leader of these crimes go unpunished citing technicality of law or lack of law? When murders/ killings are committed, the state has every right to hand maximal punishment to the killers. If Taher can be exonerated for staging a Pilkhana style violent fatal uprising, then on what logic the state can punish Pilkhana uprising leaders? In other words, if Pilkhana mutiny leader DAD Touhid is punished for his crimes, why can Taher not be punished?
11. There is a propaganda that Taher’s was a secret trial. In fact it was exactly the opposite.
Even Col Taher spoke for hours after hours. He was seen frequently misbehaving with the judge of the court.
12. Using high judiciary for partisan point scoring and distorting history is one of the gravest crimes against the state one can think of. One can certainly allege that Judge Manik and Zakir are doing exactly the same thing and then shutting everyone’s mouth by scaring them of contempt of court.
[The Bangla excerpts are purely Taher’s side of the story as these are taken from the website of Taher Shongshod. On a side note, one of Judges of High Court, Justice Ruhul Kuddus Babu is still the general secretary of the Songshod. The judge delivering the verdict was a long time leader of the socialist party Taher helped form ]