Childhood & Early Life
Hussain Muhammad Ershad was born on February 1, 1930 in the Rangpur district of present day Bangladesh.
He started attending 'Carmichael College' in Rangpur, and later continued his higher education at the 'University of Dhaka', graduating in 1950. Two years later, Ershad served in the Pakistan Army, following which he was recruited by the ‘East Bengal Regiment’ of Chittagong.
In 1966, he started pursuing military courses from the ‘Command and Staff College’ in Quetta, Pakistan. After a period of three years, he was given charge of the third ‘East Bengal Regiment’.
In 1971, during the ‘Liberation War’ of Bangladesh, he served as commander in the seventh ‘East Bengal Regiment’.
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In 1973, Hussein was sent back to Bangladesh by the Pakistan Army, after Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistan President Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto signed the 'Simla Agreement'.
After the first president of Bangladesh, Sheik Mujibur Rahman was assassinated, his successor Ziaur Rahman promoted Ershad in 1978 as the Chief of the army staff and the next year as lieutenant-general of the army.
In 1981, Major General A. Manzoor led a few other army officers in the assassination of President Ziaur Rahman. This politically chaotic situation was brought under control by Ershad, and he helped the ruling 'Bangladesh Nationalist Party'.
On March 24, 1982, he took over the state power from Abdus Sattar, who was, according to the former, unable to govern due to health ailments. He introduced the martial law, which enabled him to remove the cabinet and parliament members, controlling corruption by arresting several former cabinet members.
In the following years, he rescheduled important dates of election, and formed the 'Jatiya Party' in 1986. The same year, the military leader was elected President for a term of five years.
Even though martial law was imposed during the election of 1986, the ‘Awami League’, which was the opposition party, won 30 percent of the parliamentary seats. This made Hussain’s decisions more acceptable to the public, and with the newly elected parliament, he introduced decentralization of power at civil as well as judicial levels.
Owing to opposition from two large rival parties, the President had to reschedule another round of parliamentary elections in 1988. He was once again elected as President, the same year, but this time he withdrew the martial law.
On December 4, 1990, due to strong opposition and a state of emergency in the country, the Bangladeshi President resigned from his post. He was accused of corruption as well as other offences, and kept confined to his home.
During 1991-96, he faced trial and was indicted for corruption as well as felonious possession of arms. The defamed political leader contested in the parliamentary elections from prison twice in the span of six years, and won on both occasions.
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On January 9, 1997, Ershad was granted bail, and was released from prison, but only because he had shown his support towards the ‘Awami League’. The next year, the Supreme Court of Bangladesh ruled that this politician’s arrest had been illegal.
In 2000, the ‘Jatiya Party’ was segmented into three groups, and the former President took charge of the strongest section.
Hussain 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 political leader only served four months, after which he got out on bail.
Hussain, once again, became the Chairman of the ‘Jatiya Party’, on April 8, 2008. The same year, he participated in the parliamentary elections, from the constituencies of Rangpur, Kurigram and Dhaka, eventually winning all the three. The same year, he also became a member of the ‘Mahajote’, or the ‘Grand Alliance’ of four political parties.
The Supreme Court of Bangladesh announced on May 15, 2011, that the martial law introduced by this military leader was illegal.
In 2013, this famous political leader chose Bobby Hajjaz as his strategic consultant. Bobby is the son of Bangladeshi business tycoon and weapon dealer, Musa Bin Shamsher’s son.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1956, this politician married Begum Raushan, who is also a member of the ‘Jatiya Party’ in Bangladesh. The couple have a daughter, Mahajebin and an adopted son, Shad.
Shad is married to the grand-daughter of business stalwart M.R. Khan, Mahima Ahmed. Mahajebin, has post graduate degrees in Graphic Designing, and Cultural Studies, from the ‘London School of Art’ and the ‘London School of Economics’ and resides with her husband and children in London.
Ershad has also been married to a woman named Bidisha, who he divorced because allegedly she kept her first marriage a secret. He had a third marriage with Marieum Mumtaz, who accused the politician of having left her, and thus the latter sought annulment.