[Dhaka Correspondent] Two military officer-turned-BNP leaders have accused each other of being involved in the coup of November 3, 1975 that saw the then deputy army chief Ziaur Rahman detained and another coup on May 31, 1981 in which Zia, then military dictator of the country, was assassinated.
ASM Hannan Shah and Hafiz Uddin Ahmed, talking to reporters at their residences Friday, slung mud and challenged each other on the accusations. Both promised to quit politics if their allegations proved wrong.
Hannan Shah, a retired brigadier general and adviser to BNP’s jailed chairperson Khaleda Zia, accused newly announced acting secretary general M Hafizuddin Ahmed, a retired major, of taking active part in the November 3, 1975 coup.
Hafizuddin Ahmed, who was given the charge of secretary general at a midnight meeting of some BNP standing committee members on October 29, said after the killing of Ziaur Rahman in Chittagong Circuit House on May 31, 1981 the state-run television news showed that Hannan Shah had a meeting with the then army chief HM Ershad, “Brigadier General Hannan Shah represented the general officer commanding of 24 division of Major General Manjur, who led the coup. But I do not know if Hannan was involved with Zia’s assassination.”
“I was then a staff officer with the army headquarters and had no soldier under my command. If I were involved with the incident, I would have been tried as Ziaur Rahman had become army chief only three days after the coup on November 7, 1975,” Hafiz said in defence against the accusation brought by Hannan.
He downplayed Hannan’s allegations as remarks of a person who envied Hafiz’s becoming the party’s acting secretary general.
Hannan accused Hafiz of lying, “We have to think if such liars and frauds can be allowed to stay in the party.” Shrugging off the allegations pressed by his party colleague, Hannan said, “I had rather resisted those military coups of the people like Hafiz. He was also involved with the Bogra army rebellion.”
“I was then the commandant of Bangladesh Military Academy. And, it was I who had taken initiative to recover the body of Ziaur Rahman from Rangunia and handed it over to then acting president, Justice Sattar,” he said.
“If Hafiz can prove my involvement, I will quit politics,” Hannan said insisting that Hafiz must offer apology for his false statement. “After Zia’s killing, there had been judicial inquiry and court martial, and the persons responsible were punished. Had I been involved with the killing, I would have face court martial then.”