Government has evidence of Zia’s link to Bangabandhu killing: minister

The government “has evidence” that former military ruler and BNP founder Ziaur Rahman was “involved” with the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Liberation War affairs minister says.  

The “evidence” will be presented to the nation “in the right time”, AKM Mozammel Haque said while speaking to reporters at the ministry in Dhaka on Sunday.

“We’ve been saying that Mr Ziaur Rahman was involved with Bangabandhu murder. So we call him a killer.

“On behalf of his party, it has been said that he was not involved with the killing. We’ve responded by saying that we will present documentary evidence and information on his involvement to the nation in proper time…wait and see,” he said.

The government’s Jatiya Muktijoddha Council or JAMUKA has recently decided to remove the gallantry title of ‘Bir Uttam’ on Zia, a wartime sector commander, after revoking his Swadhinata Padak or Independence Award.

Zia is being stripped of the title for defying the constitution, assisting the self-proclaimed killers of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in fleeing the country and putting them on important state positions.

‘Bir Uttam’ is the second highest award for individual gallantry in Bangladesh after ‘Bir Sreshtha’.

The BNP says the move is derived from “political vengeance” and has questioned JAMUKA’s authority to make a decision on the issue.

But Minister Mozammel pointed out that JAMUKA had only proposed the revocation of Zia’s title but his ministry take the final call.

Zia became the army chief after the assassination of Bangabandhu and most members of the family in the Aug 15, 1975 massacre.

He later catapulted to the pinnacle of power and became the first military ruler of Bangladesh after bloody coups and counter-coups.

Subsequently, he became president and formed the BNP. He was killed in a failed coup bid in Chattogram on May 30, 1981.

The High Court in a 2005 verdict declared illegal the regimes between Aug 15, 1975 and February 1979, headed by Khandakar Mushtaque Ahmed, Abu Sa'dat Mohammad Sayem and Zia.

In another verdict in 2010, the court said HM Ershad was an “usurper” like Mushtaque, Sa’adat and Zia.

The Awami League has been saying that Zia was behind the killing of Bangabandhu by a group of army officers.

Mushtaque had tried to shield the killers by issuing an ordinance to indemnify them. Zia passed the ordinance into law later by amending the constitution. The killers were also awarded important posts in his government.