Ziaur Rahman, Bir Uttam, Hilal-e-Jurat (Bengali: জিয়াউর রহমান Ji-yaur Rôhman) (19 January 1936 – 30 May 1981) was a Bangladeshi politician and an army officer, who announced the Declaration of Independence of Bangladesh twice, the first being on 26 March 1971 at Kalurghat, Chittagong. The following day Zia repeated an edited version of the declaration on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He later became the seventh President of Bangladesh from 1977 until 1981. A highly decorated and accomplished military officer, he retired from the Bangladesh Army as a Lieutenant General. He was commander of sector 1, transferred to Teldhala from Sabroom in May 1971. He organised and created Sector 11 and remained its commander until October. During August 1971, He was appointed Brigade Commander of the Bangladesh Forces during the Bangladesh war of independence with Pakistan. During his administration, he first founded JAGODAL but he himself did not become a member of it. Then he founded the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), one of the two largest political parties in the country. He is popularly known as Shaheed President Zia, meaning "martyred Zia", in reference to his 1981 assassination.
Ziaur Rahman, commissioned military officer by career, attained the rank of Lieutenant General before retiring and then assuming the office of the presidency of Bangladesh. During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Zia served in the Khemkaran sector in Punjab as the commander of a Pakistani company unit of 500–800 soldiers. The sector was the scene of the most intense battles between the rival armies. The Pakistani government awarded Zia's unit with the highest numbers of gallantry awards for heroic performances during the war. Ziaur Rahman himself won the distinguished and prestigious Hilal-e-Jurat medal, and his unit won 4 Sitara-e-Jurat medals and 9Tamgha-e-Jurat medals from the Army for their brave roles in the 1965 War with India.
During the afternoon of 25 March 1971, when the West Pakistani Army started a genocide was still sporadic against the Bengalis of East Pakistan, Major Zia revolted and announced this in front of the soldiers of his regiment. During the early dawn hours of 26 March, Major Zia's unit (2/5 East Bengal Regiment) and members of the EPR[disambiguation needed] arrived at the Kalurghat radio station in Chittagong. On the early morning of 27–29 March 1971, radio stations repeated Zia's second declaration of independence in the name of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. After the declaration, the nation rose up to the national challenge and war broke out. Ziaur Rahman served as the commander of BDF Sector no. 1 for a month and then set up his HQ at Sabroom, Tripura. At the end of May Zia was transferred to Teldhala, north of Roumari, and Captain Rafiqul Islam was appointed Commander of BDF Sector 1. Major Zia built Sector 11 there and commanded it. He appointed Squadron Leader M. Hamidullah Khan, his first Sub-Sector Commander at Mankarchar. He also commanded 'Z' Force Brigade, which he organised and created by August 1971. During early October he had again received orders to move with his brigade to Sylhet Sector for operations against the Pakistan Army. On 10 October, he handed the sector over to the commander of 2nd sub-sector (Mahendraganj) Major Abu Taher and moved with his brigade to the Sylhet Sector. On 2 November 1971, a serious grenade injury caused Taher to cease command of the sector and sent to Pune for treatment. On the same day BDF Headquarters appointed No.1 Sub-Sector Commander (Mankarchar) Squadron Leader M. Hamidullah Khan to be the Commander of BDF Sector 11.
Recognized as a war hero in Bangladesh, the government of Bangladesh honored Ziaur Rahman with the second highest gallantry award Bir Uttom in 1972 and was made brigade commander in Comilla. Zia was appointed deputy chief of army staff in 1973.
While Zia had no relation to the massacre (he did not aide in or had no knowledge of the 15 August bloody massacre by a few young army officers) who had carried out the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his entire family on 15 August 1975, Among the young officers involved in Sheikhs killing were (Dismissed by Mujid)Major Dalim, Major Rashid, Major Faruq and Major Noor, etc. A vast conspiracy begun to unfold in Bangladesh of an internal and overt nature. After inept Major General Shafiullah was dismissed and relieved of duty on 16 August 1975, Major General Zia was appointed chief of army staff the following day by the Khondaker Mustaq Ahmed led government. A power struggle broiled onto the national stage. An illegal rebellion that was broiling inside Dhaka Cantonment broke out on 3 November 1975, led by a radical communist, retired Lt.Col Abu Taher of JSD, Brigadier Khaled Mosharraf revolted against the conspirators, so called "Majors", arrested Ziaur Rahman, and declared himself chief of army staff. Rampant assissinations of military officers including their wives were taking place under Lt. Col Abu Tahers instigation. Four major leaders inside Dhaka Central Jail were also murdered. A counter coup along with public processions broke out in different parts of the city, on 7 November 1975, by senior officers in the army. An assassination attempt was also made by the followers, led by radical socialist retired Lt. Col Abu Taher, who had made a disguised attempt to free Zia from house arrest. Zia was already rescued out and secured to the 2nd Artillery HQ at Dhaka Cantt. Brigadier General Khaled Musharraf was assassinated by JSD members and radical followers of Abu Taher. Ziaur Rahman, once secured, was led to the BTV and Bangladesh Radio Center to announce the ceasing of all hostilities, thereupon proclaimed himself deputy Martial Law Administrator with Chief Justice Sayem being Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA) on 7 November 1975.
Abu Taher, a committed radical socialist, wanted a socialist reorganization of the Bangladeshi socio-politico-economic scene which he felt was needed to get the country out of the quagmire of abject poverty, severe lawlessness and rampant corruption that it found under Sheikh Mujib's Awami League rule. His ideas alarmed the establishment. And Taher created major chaos and killing from instigating a coup inside the military establishment and radicalising and misleading troops, going above the law. Zia viewed his treason activities with extreme consternation as it threatened all the socio-economic order. Awami League's rule had fostered extreme inequalities and had served the dominant classes so well in poverty stricken Bangladesh. Later, as Abu Taher's radical ideas mislead a section of troops who caused chaos and murder and an urge for a social revolution with a central communist army grew, Zia placed Taher under charges of treason and Taher was arrested on 24 November 1975. He was tried by a military tribunal inside the Dhaka Central Jail and was sentenced to death. He was executed by hanging on 21 July 1976.
Ziaur Rahman placed the nation under Martial Law and continued Mujib's declared State of Emergency, imposed on 25 January 1975. President and Chief Justice Muhammed Abu Sayem appointed Ziaur Rahman as Deputy Chief Martial Law Administrator (Army) along with both chiefs of BAF and BN. Ziaur Rahaman assumed the office of the Presidency of the country in 1977 and won a referendum held in 1978 in support of his policies and leadership of economic freedom and hard work. He engaged himself in politics by floating a political party that came to be known as Jagodal. Later he founded the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Zia who turned out to be a nation building politician, establishedfree market economic policies in a 19-point program of industrialisation and development, earned immediate trust and respect from the vast majority of the population thus getting himself into the good books of many nations. He pursued a vigorous foreign policy of unity and strength with many nations. He created SAARC and urged the member nations to build a united free market cooperation. He pledged to the people to follow a disciplined life according to the just teachings of Islam. He introduced the recitals of the Geeta, the Bible, the Quran and the Buddhist holy book at the beginning and end of day of Bangladesh Radio and TV programs. He also adopted policies which included the saying of Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim, which he included in the national constitution. President Zia was assassinated in 1981 in an abortive military coup.
Ziaur Rahman was born in the village of Bagbari in the Bogra District of the northwest Bangladesh. His father, Mansur Rahman, was a chemist working for a government department in Kolkata. Zia's childhood was divided between living in the village and the city. He was later enrolled into the Hare School in Kolkata. With the partition of the British-Indian sub-continent in 1947, Mansur Rahman returned with his family to East Bengal, which became part of the new state of Pakistan. The family later moved to Karachi, the federal capital located in Sindh West Pakistan, where Mansur Rahman had been transferred to work for the Government of Pakistan. Zia was enrolled in the Academy School in Karachi.
Zia spent his adolescent years in Karachi and enrolled in the D.J. College there in 1952. In 1953, he entered the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul as an officer cadet. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Pakistan Army in 1955. After serving for two years in Karachi, he was transferred to the East Bengal Regiment in 1957. He attended West Germany and UK military training schools. In 1960, his marriage was arranged to Khaleda Khanum, a young Bengali girl from the Dinajpur District who was 15 years old.Khaleda Zia remained with her parents in East Pakistan to complete her studies and joined her husband in Karachi in 1963. During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Zia served in theKhemkaran sector in Punjab as the commander of a company unit of 300–500 soldiers. The sector was the scene of the most intense battles between the rival armies. Zia's unit won one of the highest numbers of gallantry awards for heroic performances. Ziaur Rahman himself won the distinguished and prestigious Hilal-e-Jurat medal, and his unit won 2 Sitara-e-Jurat medals and 9 Tamgha-e-Jurat medals from the Army for their brave roles in the 1965 War with India.
In 1966, Zia was appointed military instructor at the Pakistan Military Academy, later going on to attend the prestigious Command and Staff College in Quetta, where he completed a course in command and tactical warfare. Advocating that the Pakistan Army make greater efforts to recruit and encourage Bengali military officers, Zia helped raise two Bengalibattalions during his stint as instructor. Trained for high-ranking command posts, Zia joined the 2nd East Bengal regiment as its second-in-command at Joydevpur in 1969. Although sectarian tensions between East and West Pakistan were intensifying, Zia travelled to West Germany to receive advanced military and command training with the German Army.
Zia returned to Pakistan the following year, and witnessed political turmoil and regional division. East Pakistan had been devastated by the 1970 Bhola cyclone, and the population had been embittered by the slow response of the central government. The political conflict between Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's Awami League, which had won a majority in the 1970 elections, the President Yahya Khan and West Pakistani politician Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had brought sectarian tensions to a climax. Sheikh Mujib laid claim to form a government, but Yahya Khan postponed the convening of the legislature under pressure from West Pakistani politicians. Bengali civil and military officers had alleged institutional discrimination through the 1960s, and now distrust had divided the Pakistani Army. Upon his return, Zia attained the rank of Major and was transferred to the 8th East Bengal regiment stationed in Chittagong to serve as its second-in-command.