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One Eleven: Democracy was hijacked from Bangladesh

The Daily Dawn

The most widely discussed 'One Eleven' means th date line of 11th January 2007, When the  Democracy was hijacked from Bangladesh. 

State of emergency was declared on this day of new year evolved from political chaos in the country on the point of parliamentary election in the country.

Khaleda Zia completed her office of Prime Minister for full term of five years. However, opposition Bangladesh Awami League could keep their confidence on the then proposed Chief of the Caretaker Government (CCG) and  they enforced bloody movement with clashes in the capital city and finally it won with emergency declaration on 11th January 2007.       

Sheikh Hasina, the current Prime Minister and the then opposition primarily extended her full support to the leaders of the Emergency Government mainly backed by the Lieutenant General Moeen U Ahmed, Chief of Army of Bangladesh.   

Khaleda Zia made a blunder by making Major General Moeen U Ahmed Chief of Army Staff by superseding 9 senior officers,which made all 9 her enemies and her choice Moeen, a batch mate of her brother Major Sayeed Eskandar (Retd.), betrayed her.

Major General Masud Uddin Chowdhury, brother in law of Sayeed Eskandar, was made GOC of 9 Division to check Moeen, also betrayed Khaleda Zia supporting Moeen unlikely, who was also betrayed by Moeen.

Masud was permanently superseded by Sheikh Hasina during Awami League period of 1996–2001 although he was a recruit of 'Raksmi Bahini', Awami League's first government Para-Military Force engaged in oppression and suppression to people. 

For betrayal Masud and Aminul Karim got reward with promotion to Lt. General posts where Fazlul Bari did not got anything other than transfer out of the country. Bari went to USA State Department in favor of Moeen for approval of Martial Law and make Moeen President. 

Later Masud and Bari were involved in a coup to topple Moeen and finally Moeen succeeded and oust both of them coming back from a trip outside. Sheikh Hasina rewarded Masud with extending his job of High Commissioner to Australia first with uniform and later without uniform at the pressure of some army officials due to his role in implementation of Moeen's assignment to arrest and torture on Tarique Rahman.

Moeen used to decide everything while in power whether there were balance of power, system of government, local government, role of military etc.

Khaleda Zia included Hussain Muhammad Ershad into 4 Party Alliances twice, once after 1996 when Awami League came to power and after BNP came to power in 2001. But, later Ershad left the alliance as BNP did not give him desired seats in the planned parliamentary election of 2007.

On 29th October 2006 Khaleda Zia's term in office ended. Before this day, the world saw a blood shed at the central point of Dhaka City which is just  500 meter far from the president residence. Open arms were shot at a Meeting of Bangladesh Jamaat Islami (BJI) by the then opposition Awami League (AL) activists on broad day light on 28th October 2006. Six Jamaat men were killed in that incident with lethal weapon by the AL. World saw huge dance on the dead bodies with weapons in hand. It happened due to uncertainty over who would succeed Mrs. Zia as chief advisor (Chief of Caretaker Government of Bangladesh).

On the same day evening, a presidential spokesman Mukhles Chowdhury declared that former Supreme Court Chief Justice Khondokar Mahmud Hasan (K M Hasan), who had been due to take over as Chief Advisor, would not be assuming the role due to ill health.

Subsequently, president Iajuddin Ahmed, assumed power as Chief Advisor on 29th October 2006. President tried his best and facing all odds. Presidential advisor Mukhlesur Rahman Chowdhury met both Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina, solved political problems and met demands of Awami League and their allies.

As a result, on 24th December Sheikh Hasina announced that her grand alliance will participate in coming elections. At her demand Presidential Adviser negotiated with Election Commission and managed to extend two days to file nominations and officially on 26th December 2006 all political parties joined the elections of planned 22 January 2007.

The date of election was scheduled on 21st January, then 23rd January and finally it was rescheduled on 22nd January 2007 for come to consensus.

Then army chief Lt. General Moeen was involved in conspiracy to declare a state of emergency, which was made ready on 29th October 2006 following 'Logi-Boitha' massacre of previous day (28 October) and army was made stand by with one hour notice.

Khaleda Zia did not try to understand that Moeen will betray whereas Mukhles Chowdhury was divulging general's hidden agenda as he was only obstacle to that. Mrs Zia was annoyed why state of emergency was obstructed.

When H M Ershad's nomination was canceled, for the sake of holding elections what was done since late October 2006 until 3 January 2007 Mukhles Chowdhury had been urging all political fronts not to stop elections and not to do anything that hinders elections and opens way to take over by military.

Moeen group advised Zia to participate elections without Awami League and supported the formula of Hasina to go ahead with 'Logi-Boitha' and blockade programme to topple Iajuddin's Caretaker Government (CTG).

The group tried to create division within CTG and foiled army deployment in aid to civil power. There were three groups in army and one Aminul Karim had series of meetings with Moeen on military take over and he united the rival groups with the help of Fazlul Bari while Brig A T M Amin played major role in arresting and removing people from the government.

Amin informed US diplomat that Mukhlesur Rahman Chowdhury was removed and Rezzakul Haider Chowdhury was removed and arrested. He also gave life threat to Mukhles Chowdhury. Intelligence attempted to assassinate Mukhles Chowdhury.

Moeen and Aminul Karim had also secret meeting at Bangabhaban. Had Begum Zia understand the gravity of the situation she could allow Caretaker Government against so called State of Emergency and not to cancel Ershad's nomination. Military group betrayed with her. It is still mysterious that why she did not receive phone calls from Presidential Advisor on 11th January 2007 when Moeen was obstructed at the gate of Bangabhaban.

Even when thereafter MSP brought Moeen to his room then there had also been effort to connect with her from highest office at the part of political engagement as it was done with other top politicians and she was away.

All including DGFI, SSF, 9th Infantry Division of Bangladesh Army, 46 Brigade betrayed with democracy and constitution while President's Advisor was trying to the last for the sake of democracy and constitution.

DG, NSI and Commandant, PGR was also loyal. Army had connection with Awami league and Moeen was superseded 9 senior officers in appointing army chief what was a great blunder of BNP government.
Khaleda Zia now realises that making Iajuddin Ahmed as the Chief Advisor was wrong.

After tremendous domestic and international pressure and amid Awami League claims of partisanship, President Dr. Iajuddin Ahmed stepped down as Chief Advisor of the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh but remained as the President of Bangladesh. Elections scheduled for 22 January were postponed. The new caretaker government led by former Bangladesh Bank governor Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, in its fight against corruption, has targeted many of Mrs. Zia's BNP ministers.

Tareq Rahman, Senior Vice Chairman of BNP and eldest son 
of  Khaleda tortured during Moeen regime   
Mrs. Zia's eldest son, Tareque Rahman, was also arrested in March 2007 for corruption. It was later reported that, beginning on 9th April, the government barred other politicians from visiting Mrs. Zia's residence due to the state of emergency, imposed in January, which prohibits political activity. Youngest son of Mrs. Zia, Arafat Rahman, was arrested on 16 April 2007.

Since United News Bangladesh (UNB) carried unverified reports of Arafat's arrest on 16th April 2007, it cited unnamed 'family sources' as claiming Mrs. Zia was considering exile. UNB said speculation was mounting Mrs. Zia would relocate to Saudi Arabia.

It also noted her brother, Major (Retd.) Sayeed Iskandar was attempting to negotiate her exit from Bangladesh with authorities from the interim administration. The New Nation newspaper carried a report on 17th April 2007 stating Khaleda had in fact agreed to go into exile in return for the release of her youngest son.

The report said the Saudi government had expressed its willingness to accept Khaleda and her family members as royal guests. Meanwhile, Bangladesh's The Daily Star quoted an unnamed source who claimed Zia's decision to leave the nation meant authorities would now force Awami League president Sheikh Hasina, Zia's bitter rival who was then in the United States, to also embrace exile. All these reports about exile and government pressure on Mrs. Zia were denied by the government.

On 19th April 2007, Khondker Babul Chowdhury, a member of the BNP national executive committee, filed the appeal urging the court to order the government not to send Khaleda abroad against her wish and challenging the reported confinement of Khaleda to her house. 

On 22nd April 2007 the High Court issued a rule on the government to explain within five days why the court will not direct the government to produce Khaleda Zia before the court to prove that she is not confined to her house. On 25th April 2007, in what was viewed as a reversal, the government said that Zia's movement was not restricted and that she had not been under any pressure to leave the country; it also dropped its ban on Hasina's return.

On 7 May, the government was ordered by the High Court to explain restrictions on Mrs. Zia that were said to remain in place.

On 17 July 2007, the Anti Corruption Commission Bangladesh (ACC) sent notices to both Mrs. Zia and Mrs. Hasina, requesting that details of their assets be submitted to the commission within one week.
Mrs. Zia was asked to appear in court on 27th September 2007 in connection with a case for not submitting service returns for Daily Dinkal Publications Limited for years.

On 2nd September 2007, a case was filed against Mrs. Zia by the interim government for corruption regarding the awarding of contracts to Global Agro Trade Company in 2003, and on 3rd September 2007 she was arrested. Her youngest son Arafat Rahman (Coco) along with 11 others was also detained after police recorded a corruption case against them involving irregularities at Chittagong port. 

A bribery case was also filed against current Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina (rival of Khaleda), detained in a special jail. 

On the same day, Mrs. Zia expelled party Secretary General Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan and Joint Secretary General Whip Ashraf Hossain for breaching party discipline. On 30th September 2007, Mrs. Zia was granted bail by the High Court, which also ruled that the trial should be stopped on the grounds that the emergency laws could not be applied to her actions before they were imposed in January 2007. The government appealed this decision, however, and on 4th October 2007 the Supreme Court ruled that she should not be granted bail and that the trial should continue.

After Khaleda Zia was detained, party standing committee members chose former Finance Minister Saifur Rahman and former Water Resources minister Major (Rtd.) Hafizuddin Ahmed to lead the BNP for the time being; Mrs. Zia's supporters did not recognize this.

Bangladesh Election Commission subsequently invited Hafizuddin's faction, rather than Mrs. Zia's, to participate in talks, effectively recognizing the former as the legitimate BNP. Zia challenged this in court, but her appeal was rejected on 10th April 2008.

Mrs. Zia's youngest son Arafat Rahman (Coco) was released in August 2008, and her eldest son Tareque Rahman was released on bail on 3rd September 2008. Mrs. Zia had been granted bail on two of her four cases by this point, but remained in jail because bail had not been granted for the other two. Her lawyers said on 4th September 2008 that they would also seek bail for the other two cases.

However, finally an election was held on 29th December 2008 and Sheikh Hasina came to power with more than two-third majority. HM Ershad, one of the major component in the ruling 14-party grand alliance even made a comment in the Parliament that "none but the Army only took them into power".

However, due to imbalanced result of the 1/11 government election both the government and opposition were below the balanced line which leads the country to danger.   

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