A few years ago, I noted how the typical discourse on Ziaur Rahman is full of lies. An (Awami League supporting) old friend asked me to write a positive account of Zia’s politics: instead of rebutting X, write about Y, he told me. This (painfully slowly progressing) series is an attempt at that. Meanwhile, a regular reader asked me to write about Zia’s role during the war — not to refute the preposterous propaganda about him being a Pakistani spy, but about what Zia actually did after the radio declarations of March.
Interestingly, not much is readily available on the matter. While it is well known that Major Abu Taher or Major Khaled Mosharraf were injured in the battles of Kamalpur and Kasba respectively, even the typical BNP supporter wouldn’t be able to name a battle Zia was associated with. According to Muyeedul Hassan’s Muldhara ’71 (among other sources), Zia wanted Osmani to establish a war council. I have also heard from a number of freedom fighters that Zia worked hard to build a regular army. But these weren’t exactly the stuff of ‘battlefield valor’.
This well-researched post by the nationalist blogger দাসত্ব shows that Zia was actually quite intricately involved with a number of battles in 1971. I highlight some key points from the post over the fold. All the photos are from his post as well.