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Wednesday, 7 November, 2001, 18:26 GMT
Bangladesh remembers a mutiny
By Moazzem Hossain in Dhaka

Bangladesh has been marking Revolution and Solidarity day to mark the anniversary of a military mutiny in 1975 that changed the country's political scene.

The mutiny brought General Ziaur Rahman, husband of the Present Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, to power.

General Zia, as he was known, was himself later assassinated in an abortive military coup in 1981.

However, twenty six years after the mutiny, the nation remains divided over the significance of the day.

Struggle for power

1975 was a turbulent year in the history of Bangladesh.

Soldiers
The army loomed large in politics since 1975

The country's founder-President, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was assassinated in a bloody military coup.

What followed was a series of coups and counter-coups throwing the country into near- anarchy and uncertainty.

Three months after President Mujib Rahman was assassinated, four of his close associates were killed inside a prison in Dhaka.

The army's chain of command broke down and against that backdrop ordinary soldiers revolted against their officers on 7 November, 1975.

Many believe the revolt was instigated by National Socialist Party, the largest leftist political group of the country at that time.

However the greatest beneficiary of the mutiny turned out to be General Ziaur Rahman, who was a popular figure among ordinary soldiers for his leading role in Bangladesh's war of independence.

Uncertain legacy

Following the mutiny General Zia became the supreme leader of the country, later on assuming the office of the President.

He went on to form his own party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

His supporters believe the mutiny of November 1975 saved the country from anarchy and restored political stability.

His critics, especially the main opposition Awami League party views the mutiny in the army as a conflict between power-hungry generals.

During the five-year rule of the previous Awami League government, the day was not observed officially.

However, the new government of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has declared the day a public holiday and has been celebrating it with much fanfare.

See also:

08 Nov 98 | South Asia
Analysis: The controversy never dies
22 Oct 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Bangladesh
03 Oct 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh's Islamic revival
02 Oct 01 | South Asia
Analysis: A tale of two women
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