POST TIME: 14 July, 2019 12:01:49 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 14 July, 2019 06:40:29 PM
Rise and fall of Ershad
Independent Online/ UNB

Rise and fall of  Ershad

Deposed Bangladesh dictator Hussain Muhammad Ershad (C) waves to supporters of Jatiya Party and journalists 09 January as he leaves the special house where he had been detained since July, 1996, after being released on bail. Photo: AFP

Hussain Muhammad (HM) Ershad, a former military strongman and a five-time MP, breathed his last today (Sunday) at 7:45am in the Combined Military Hospital, Dhaka.

The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament had been shuttling between his home and hospital for the last few months as his health condition deteriorated.

Born on February 1, 1930 in the Koochbihar district of West Bengal, Ershad was commissioned in the Pakistan Army in 1952.

After his repatriation from Pakistan to Independent Bangladesh, Ershad was appointed Adjutant General of Bangladesh Army in 1973.

Ershad was promoted to the post of the Chief of Army Staff in December 1978 during the rule of Ziaur Rahman.

Amid political turmoil after the assassination of Zia by an army cabal, he took over the state power from then President Abdus Sattar on March 24, 1982, promulgating the martial law.

Ershad also declared himself as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, a constitutional post held by the elected President.

He made a very important change in the local government system by introducing the upazila system in the country in 1984.

Ershad formed 'Jatiya Party' in 1986 and was elected President for a term of five years the same year through the third parliamentary election, triggering huge protest by other political parties.

In the face of a strong opposition movement, Ershad dissolved the parliament on December 7, 1987. The 4th parliamentary election was held on March 3, 1988 was boycotted by all major opposition political parties.

Amid a fierce combined movement by the opposition parties, he was finally forced to step down on 6 December 1990.

The Jatiya Party chief was later accused of corruption as well as other offences, and kept confined to prison.

The deposed political leader contested the parliamentary elections from prison twice in the span of six years, and won on both occasions from five seats.

After six years of confinement, Ershad was granted bail, and was released from prison on January 9, 1997.He, however, lost his membership of the Jatiya Sangsad due to conviction by the court.

Ershad was once again arrested in 2001, in a trial called the ‘Janata Tower Case’, on charges of using political authority to assign land, and having black money. Even though he was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment, the military ruler only served four months, after which he got out on bail.

He was given 'Palli Bandhu' (Friend of Villages) title by his followers for his role in developing rural areas during his rule.

On May 15, 2011, the Supreme Court of Bangladesh announced that the martial law introduced by this military leader was illegal.