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Victimization of the protagonist Colonel Taher as "the other"

Rajkumar Shashwata  Halder & Tanjilul Anwar give a Marxist reading of the novel

Published : Saturday, 3 December, 2016 at 12:00 AM Count : 377

Colonel Abu Taher, the protagonist of historical novel 'Kracher Kornel' was born on Nov 14, 1938 at Badarpur of Assam Province in the then British India, in a family that hailed from the East Kajla village in Purbadhala Thana of Netrakona. His military career started off with him joining the Pakistan Army. He was selected to join the elite Special Service Group (Commando Force) of the army. Recognition of Taher's military excellence started off with a gallantry award for his actions in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, where he fought in the Kashmir and Shialkot sectors. Taher later took advanced training on Guerrilla Warfare at Fort Bragg and Fort Benning in the United States in 1969. In July, 1971, Taher and several other Bengali officers defected from the army and crossed into India near Abbottabad of the Pakistan-India border. He joined the Bangladeshi liberation forces and was made the commander of Sector 11. He was seriously wounded on 14 November 1971 while launching an attack on enemy camp at Kamalpur, known as the gateway to Dhaka. His left leg was blown off from above the knee. Taher was awarded the Bir Uttam title, the highest recognition for gallantry awarded to living participants in the liberation war. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and was appointed the adjunct General of the Bangladesh Army following independence. Later he became the leader of the left wing Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal (JSD). He was responsible for an uprising which freed army Chief General Ziaur Rahman. After releasing Zia ur Rahman, he was found high treason and murder and executed.]

Colonel Taher was a Marxist revolutionary. According to him without armed revolution East Pakistan (present Bangladesh) won't be able to free from the oppression of West Pakistan.
After the Liberation War of 1971, East Pakistan gained her new identity as Bangladesh. The new government declared Bangladesh as a democratic country. Colonel Taher's ideology of communism and working for its establishment made him 'the other' in a capitalist-democratic country.
At that time the military force was divided into militants and officer. There was huge difference between these two forces of military. The officers enjoyed every facility whereas the militants didn't get what they deserved. Colonel Taher wanted to form the military force in a new way. He wanted to bring equity in army force. He tried to implement this ideology when he was the commander of 44th battalion and commanding officer of Comilla Cantonment. But the higher ranked officers didn't like his idea of equity. Colonel Taher resigned from the army in September 1972 on the issue of his left-leaning communist ideas of organizing the Bangladesh Army along the lines of the People's Liberation Army. Later this issue invoked a military coup in military force and led Taher's execution.
Bangladesh politics met a spell of military uprising and counter uprising immediately after the assassination of the Father of the Nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with his family members on August 15, 1975.
During that period Taher was the head of JSD's armed wing, the Gonobahini. Khondaker Mostaq offered Taher to join him to form the new government. But Taher declined his offer. He also protested against the Mostaq government. Thus the Colonel again became the threat to the newly formed government.
The government set up by Major Faruque, Major Rashid and Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad was overthrown in another coup on 3 November 1975. This was organized by Brigadier Khaled Mosharraf. He put Major General Ziaur Rahman, the Chief of Army Staff and fellow freedom fighter, who was believed to have supported the August coup, under house arrest but did not execute him.
On November 7, 1975, Taher orchestrated a socialist uprising amongst the soldiers and overthrew the 3-day coup of Mosharraf. Then he freed Ziaur Rahman from house-arrest in order to facilitate a Marxist takeover of power. However Zia later conducted a secret trial, in which Taher was convicted.
After the military coup of 7 November led by colonel Taher, Zia became the new President of the country under martial law. However, only 17 days after the takeover by Zia, Taher was arrested. A total of 33 people, including him, were tried in a secret court martial inside Dhaka Central Jail in June 17, 1976. Of them, 16 were released while 17 were handed various sentences. Three of them, including Taher, were sentenced to death. However, the death verdicts of the other two were later lessened to life imprisonment. Thus the protagonist of paid the ultimate prize being "the other".
—Rajkumar Shashwata  Halder

Kracher Kornel is a novel turned biography of late Colonel Abu Taher. A beautiful depiction of the life, struggle and unjustified murder of the Colonel has been brought up by the author Shahaduzzaman. The major part of the novel describes post liberation war clash and unstable administration and colonel Taher's steps on establishing scientific socialism in the democratic structure of Bangladesh.
Colonel Taher lost one of his legs in the war which didn't even slow him down for a moment in his revolution after war. He was a Marxist-communist in his belief and was inspired in establishing communism. The political, economic, and social theories of Karl Marx include the belief that the struggle between social classes is a major force in history and that there should eventually be a society in which there are no hierarchal differences. Colonel Taher believed that there need to be a revolution in the political structure of Bangladesh. He dreamed of the post war Bangladesh being the model of a successful socialism due to the promises and similar dreams of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman --- to have a secular state. But the post war Bangladesh was struggling with malnourishment of resources and was ruled by opportunistic politicians.
Taher realized that he needed time and practice to constitute socialism in this falling country. So he practiced his scientific socialistic structure among his troops in Comilla Cantonment and he gave the term "peoples' army". He was a true patriot who had never seek power but wanted to create a strong society without class and discrimination. Following Marx's theory he realized the socialism he intended can not be formed without a revolution. His ideology was not taken so well among his superiors. Thus he understood that he needed to fulfill his dreams among the general people. Thus he formed National Socialist Party with many left-wing socialists. Colonel Abu Taher was a believer in armed struggle. He was given in charge of forming an armed force for the party with the view to carry out an actual revolution. It was called "Biplobi Soinik Songstha".
During his professional life he was 'otherised' because of his socialist ideology. Taher finally found his opportunity when the second coup happened by major Khalid mosharrof without any goal to establish power. The structure was vulnerable and a help request from Major General Ziaur Rahman made up his mind to strike. Even though the coup was successful, the process he intended for the power to be established was failed and Zia shrewdly took over power. He and his fellow socialists were then hunt down and imprisoned by Zia and Taher was given a death sentence in a sham tribunal.
—Tanjilul Anwar

The writers are schooling with
Notre Dame University Bangladesh

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