Ershad passes away, burial tomorrow
President, PM shocked
Published : Monday, 15 July, 2019 at 12:00 AM Count : 801
Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad, who was fighting with life at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Dhaka, has lost his 17-day battle breathing his last at around 7:45am on Sunday. The doctors unplugged his life support with the consent of his family members.
According to Jatiya Party leaders, after four funeral prayers at Dhaka and Rangpur, the former military ruler and Army chief will be laid to rest at the army graveyard in Dhaka on Tuesday.
However, Rangpur people have demanded that Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad be laid to rest in his hometown.
The demand was made in front of the Jatiya Party office in the city hours after the 90-year-old deposed military dictator died.
Meanwhile, party's Acting Chairman GM Quader and Secretary General Moshiur Rahman Ranga told that Ershad's funeral prayers or the namaz-e-janaza will be held at Army Central Mosque in Dhaka, South Plaza of the Jatiya Sangsad, Baitul Mukarram National Mosque and Rangpur Eidgah ground.
According to the schedule, his first namaz-e-janaza was held at the Army Central Mosque in Dhaka on Sunday after Zuhr prayers. Later, his body was kept at the CMH mortuary for the Sunday night.
His second namaz-e-janaza will be held at South Plaza of the parliamentary building at 10:00am on Monday. Later, his body will be taken to the party's central office at the Dhaka's Kakrail for the party leaders, activists and the people to pay tribute from noon to 3:00pm.
A third namaz-e-janaza of Ershad, who was toppled from power in a mass-movement on December 6 in 1990, will be held at the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque after Asr prayers on Monday.
Ershad will be flown by helicopter to his hometown Rangpur on Tuesday morning. The fourth funeral prayers will be held at 10:30am at the Rangpur Eidgah ground. Later, he will be brought back for burial after Zohr prayers at the Army Graveyard in Dhaka.
His post-funeral qulkhwani will be held at Azad Mosque in Gulshan on Wednesday after Asr prayers.
Ershad breathed his last at the Dhaka CMH at around 7:45am on Sunday. The deposed military dictator was suffering from myelodysplastic syndrome or a low-level of haemoglobin in his blood for long. He was diagnosed with lung infection and kidney ailment after he was admitted to the CMH on June 22.
Meanwhile, President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday expressed deep shock and sorrow at the death of Leader of the Opposition in Parliament and Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad.
In a condolence message, Sheikh Hasina recalled Ershad's constructive role in Parliament as the opposition leader.
In separate messages, the President and the Prime Minister prayed for salvation of the departed soul and expressed deep sympathy to Ershad's bereaved family members.
The Foreign Minister, Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the Chief Whip also mourned the death of Ershad.
While briefing media on Saturday, his brother and JaPa Acting Chairman GM Quader said, "None of Ershad's organs are functioning. As a result, the doctors have decided to declare him dead after necessary examination. His life support was unplugged following the decision."
Although Ershad was contesting the December 30 national elections, he was sent to Singapore for treatment in the first week of the same month. He returned home on December 26, just ahead of the elections after completing treatment at a Singapore hospital.
He pulled himself out of the electoral race in the Dhaka-17 seat citing his illness, but contested in the Rangpur-3 constituency without campaigning and won the election.
In April last, former President Ershad formed a trust in his name and donated all his assets to it. His brother GM Quader, son Erik Ershad and some closed associates were made the trustee of the trust.
Before getting admitted to the CMH, Ershad filed a general diary (GD) at Gulshan Police Station fearing theft of his properties taking the advantage of his ailment.
Maj (Rtd) Khaled, a trustee of Ershad Trust and a close associate of the former military ruler, had also lodged a GD with the same police station recently claiming that some people have been threatening to abduct Ershad's son Erik.
Ershad was born in 1930 in Dinhata, a subdivision of Coochbehar district of present-day West Bengal in the-then British India, to Mokbul Hossain and Mazida Khatun. Ershad was one of nine siblings of the couple.
His parents migrated from Dinhata to Bangladesh (the then East Pakistan) in 1948 after the India-Pakistan partition. He studied in Carmichael College in Rangpur, and later graduated from the University of Dhaka in 1950.
He was commissioned into the Pakistan Army in 1952 from Officers Training School in Kohat. During his service period, he was an adjutant in the East Bengal regimental depot in Chittagong. Later, he completed advanced courses from the Command and Staff College in Quetta in 1966.
After serving with a brigade in Sialkot, he was given command of the 3rd East Bengal Regiment in 1969 and the 7th East Bengal Regiment in 1971. He was reportedly interned along with other Bengali officers stationed in West Pakistan during the 1971 Liberation War and repatriated to Bangladesh in 1973.
During the regime of another military ruler Ziaur Rahman, he was promoted to the rank of Army Chief. After Zia's brutal death in a military coup Ershad took the advantage to clench power.
On April 24 in 1982, Ershad usurped state power as the Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA) by removing the-then President Abdus Sattar through another bloodless coup. Only three days after the coup, he installed Justice AFM Ahsanuddin Chowdhury as the President.
Later, Ershad assumed the country's Presidency in December 1983 and served till December 6, 1990. He had to surrender his presidency to Chief Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed amidst a mass-movement of people and students on the day.
During his regime, Ershad suspended the country's constitution and parliament, repressed his political opponents and according to critics, he used "religion" to gain petty political interest through wooing country's majority Muslims by making Islam the state religion in 1988 by amending the constitution.
He formed a political party 'Jatiya Party' while holding the office of the Chief of Army and also being at the helm of the government.
After stepping down from power, he was arrested in 1991 and was later released on bail in January 1997. He was sued in over 26 cases on different charges including corruption.
Later, he was convicted in two cases and was acquitted and discharged from 20 cases during the BNP and Awami League tenures. But two cases - General Manzoor murder and a graft case - are still pending against him in two separate courts.
While in jail, he took part in the national elections of 1991, 1996 and won from all five constituencies he took part in. In 1996, Ershad extended support to Awami League to form a coalition government.
In 2000, Ershad was sentenced in a corruption case. As a result, he could not contest the 2001 elections. He was, however, released on bail in the case on April 9 in 2001. Ershad was elected as lawmaker in 2008, 2014 and 2018 national elections.
In 1998-99, Ershad had withdrawn his support from ruling Awami League and extended his support to BNP forming the Four-Party Alliance. Later, he had withdrawn his support from BNP and extended further supports for Awami League. Due to his political volte-face, JaPa has to split twice during Awami League and BNP governments.
He continued taking advantage of the country's tricky alliance-based politics and became pivotal figure in the political scenario of Bangladesh, especially in forming coalition governments. Yet, despite criticism, Ershad came to be fondly known as "Pallibandhu" by his admirers, and had brought significant changes to the country's local government system.
In 1984, Ershad introduced upazila system in the country aiming to decentralise local administration at grassroots level. He expanded the national highway system, increased number of districts to 64, and also tried to decentralise the civil and judicial administration.
Ershad married Raushan Ershad in 1956. The couple had a son together and also adopted a daughter. Raushan later went on to become the senior co-chairperson of Jatiya Party, and also a lawmaker and the leader of the opposition in the parliament.
Ershad faced criticism on many occasions for keeping relationship with several women. He later married Bidisha, his second wife, in 2000, and later made her a presidium member of JP. He has a son with Bidisha. However, the marriage ended in divorce over a "political drama" in 2005.