The work on preparing a list of freedom fighters will not take place during the remainder of the incumbent government’s tenure ahead of the national polls and the Freedom Fighters’ Central Command Council election.
A new list will be made after the general election, said officials of the Liberation War Affairs Ministry and the Jatio Muktijoddha Council (Jamuka).
On the other hand, the ministry has said that people accused of irregularities will not be part of the local scrutiny committees. New committees will be formed in areas where allegations of irregularities have been raised.
An official of the ministry said that the government took initiative to prepare the list to provide facilities to the freedom fighters that were dropped from the previous lists and those who were never included in them.
“We received about 170,000 applications online and later forwarded them to local committees for scrutiny. These committees recommended including more than 25,000 applicants in the list,” the official said.
But later, the ministry started receiving complaints against many of these applications. Intelligence reports also found irregularities in the recommendations of the local committees. The process to prepare the list was halted on March 11.
In the last 47 years, the list of freedom fighters has been amended six times. During the same period, changes have been brought 11 times to the process to define freedom fighters and their age.
The National Freedom Fighters Council said a gazette was published on January 12 last year on forming 480 committees for scrutinizing freedom fighters. These committees started work on January 21 that year. Of them, 365 committees recommended 25,000 names for inclusion in the list.
Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque has said that at least 100 of these committees provided faulty reports.
“Most of them did not follow the guidelines we recommended for including freedom fighters in the list. Only 10% of the recommendations are correct. That’s why we have suspended activities of these committees,” he said.
Meanwhile, a large number of freedom fighters have been thronging the Jatio Muktijoddha Council (Jamuka) with applications and appeals. One of them is Nawaz Ali, a resident of Brahmanbaria’s Bijoynagar upazila.
“I fought in Sector 3. My father Modhu Mia was killed by the razakars. Once I received a grant of Tk20,000 from the prime minister as a freedom fighter. But the local union commander did not recommend my name due to a family feud. That is why I have come to file an appeal,” he said.
Resumption of FF list work to take time
Jamuka officials have said that the prime minister ordered preparation of the list to ensure that freedom fighters in need receive some facilities. But the process has been obstructed because of irregularities.
Complaints began to flood in from various parts of the country as soon as work to prepare the list started. Local freedom fighters in Kurigram held a rally protesting the irregularities on December 21. They alleged that the local committee had made recommendations in exchange for money.
The work of the scrutiny committees was suspended on March 11 mainly because of these allegations. Ministry sources say the government is not rushing to prepare a list because of the upcoming national polls and the central freedom fighters command election.
The committees that have been accused of irregularities will be scrapped and work will resume with new committees in their places. The work will take time and the government is unwilling to take risks by hastily drawing up a list.
Jamuka Director General Mizanur Rahman said they have stopped the work on the list based on specific allegations.
“The committees ignored our request to provide information about freedom fighters in the categories we suggested. More clarity is needed. A decision will be taken later following a meeting,” he said.
Mizanur said that an increase in facilities provided to the freedom fighters have enticed many people to be included the list. “Numerous people were included in the freedom fighter list during the previous [BNP-led] alliance government even though they did not take part in the Liberation War,” he said.
Liberation War Affairs Minister Mozammel declined to comment when asked about the resumption of preparing the list.
“The committee will decide on it after holding a meeting. We wanted to include the freedom fighters who were left out. We assumed that 10,000 to 15,000 freedom fighters would be included in the list. But the work could not be done with clarity,” he added.
The minister further said: “We have information on the accused people. We will drop them when we form new local committees who will do the scrutiny.”
This article was first published on banglatribune.com