It was during the fateful night of March 25 of 1971, when political leaders were on run or went into hiding to save themselves from Pakistani military force, Ziaur Rahman, the second-in-command of the 8 East Bengal Regiment of Chittagong, declared “We revolt” and shoot their way through the cantonment to build resistance against the Pakistani Army along with his fellows and soldiers and later declared the independence of Bangladesh.
The Time Magazine in the obituary of President Zia narrated this moment on June 8, 1981, edition:
Ten years ago, this spring, young Major Ziaur Rahman broadcast an electrifying message from a clandestine radio in the East Pakistan city of Chittagong, proclaiming a rebellion against West Pakistan that ultimately created the nation of Bangladesh.Time Magazine, Bangladesh: Death at Night (June 8, 1981)
Ziaur Rahman was initially appointed as the sector commander of Sector-1 in Chittagong but was later asked to form and lead a regular brigade. Colonel (retd) MAG Osmani in an interview which was later archived in the Liberation War Documents confirmed this.
Zia was the first commander to raise a regular brigade in the Bangladesh army which is known as the ‘Z force’ and freed a sizeable amount of land from Pakistan Army in Kurigram, Mymensingh and Sylhet. A war document sent by Ziaur Rahman on September 15, 1971 to Colonel Osmani has been retrieved that shows the operational activities of Z Force from September 1 to September. It contains the details of the preparations and operations conducted by the force.
Later, he led the force in some of the most famous battles in the Bangladesh liberation war, namely the Kamalpur Border Outpost attack, the battle at Nakshi, and the battle of Atgram which was a decisive victory for Bangladesh.
In November, Z Force was asked to move to Sylhet from their makeshift settlements around Roumari, a place they liberated in August. Ziaur Rahman, with his force, moved to Sylhet and during the decisive moments of Bangladesh’s liberation war in December, they spent their time fighting the enemies in Sylhet area. On December 15, 1971, Z Force and the freedom fighters of Sector 5 under Mir Showkat Ali, liberated Sylhet area.