Speakers at a program have said that the war heroines who are known as Biranganas should have been honoured much earlier than they were, and that they were also freedom fighters.
The comments were made at an event arranged to honour 15 Biranganas at the Naripokkho office in Dhanmondi on Thursday.
Naripokkho has been conducting a project, titled “Ekattore ze narider bhulechi (the forgotten women of 1971)”, from 2011 to assist the Biranganas. The project began with 23 Biranganas from Sirajganj, with the assistance of Safina Lohani, a Birangana herself.
Among the 23 Biranganas, four have since died and another 19 were included in the government project by July 2017. Later, 12 more Biranganas were selected on the basis of media reports.
Naripokkho have identified some 137 Biranganas, among whom 64 were listed as freedom fighters. A press release from the women’s rights organization said the total number of women who were declared as freedom fighters by the Liberation War Affairs Ministry is 146.
Parvin Hasan, a guest at the event, thanked Naripokkho for involving her in their initiatives and said: “We are angry with ourselves, as we started this initiative late. The initiative should have started much earlier.”
Karma Parishad member Ferdousi Azim said Biranganas were victims of attacks that took place in every war.
“The country was ready to accept this reality as soon as the war ended. Kamruzzaman on December 22 first termed them as Biranganas. This showed that the nation was ready to recognize them much earlier than they were. But the nation did not know how to embrace the situation,” she said.
Maleka Begum, professor of Central Women’s University, said the ministry is reluctant to list Biranganas as freedom fighters, as they would then have to pay them freedom fighter allowances.
“Before being identified as Biranganas, these women were freedom fighters. Everyone has to recognize that they are also freedom fighters,” she said.
Speakers and women’s rights activists at the program expressed their eagerness to extend their support to the Biranganas in any form.
Naripokkho provided a saree, some leaflets, and posters to the Biranganas and said the nation would never forget its war heroines.