This Day in History (30-May-1981) – The president of Bangladesh, Zia ur Rahman, is assassinated

Abul Manzoor was a very close friend of President Zia us Rahman since 1971, when they fought in the Liberation war of Bangladesh together. Manzoor wanted to be the Chief of Army Staff of the Bangladesh Army, however Mir Shawkat Ali, another close associate, was senior to him by 2 years. Zia finally got annoyed by the arrogance of both Manzoor and Mir Shawkat Ali and appointed Hussain Muhammad Ershad as Chief of Army Staff of the Bangladesh Army on December 1978. On 20th May 1981, Zia held a conference with military personnel in Dhaka where several Major Generals are believed to have criticised Zia severely for ‘over-democratising’ the political system. The most vocal and outspoken at the meeting was Major-General Manzoor who accused Zia of betraying the army and being ungrateful towards the military which help him attain power. Major Manzoor flew back to Chittagong after the meeting and apparently started planning the coup that cost Zia his life.

At 4 AM on 30th May 1981, three teams of army officiers attacked the Chittagong Circuit House where Zia ur Rahman was asleep. In all there were 16 army officers as soldiers refused to join. They had eleven SMGs, three Rocket Launchers and three grenade firing rifles. The important fact was all members of the attacking team were commissioned officers. Lieutenant Colonel Fazle Hossain started the attack by launching two rockets towards the circuit house which created to large hole in the building. The officers then searched room to room for Ziaur Rahman. Shortly afterwards,  Colonel Matiur Rahman arrived with another team and shot Zia from close range with a SMG. Major Manzoor was not present at the time of attack.

After the assassination of Zia ur Rahman, Hussain Muhammad Ershad, the Chief of Army Staff, remained loyal to the government and ordered the army to suppress the coup attempt of Zia’s associates led by Major General Abul Manzoor. General Manzoor was caught at Fatikchhari by Army force and killed.


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