Bangladesh to punish Freedom Fighters for benefit fraud

Ershad Kamol | Published: 00:05, Dec 01,2020 | Updated: 00:23, Dec 01,2020


The government has taken an initiative to identify and punish the freedom fighters who have been drawing extra monthly allowances and benefits showing more than one accounts over the years.

The initiative was taken after the liberation war affairs ministry found that an estimated 21,000 names were excluded after the digitisation of the list of beneficiaries in October. 

The database was developed compiling the names of freedom fighters from 33 gazettes or documents after verifying those against information furnished on national identity cards of the freedom fighters or their heirs.

‘We fear that a good number of freedom fighters used to take monthly allowances from more than one upazilas exploiting the manual system and the names of the same freedom fighters exist in more than one gazettes or documents,’ liberation war affairs minister Md Mozammel Huq told New Age on Monday.     

‘Names of beneficiaries were dropped after detecting incongruities in information and after freedom fighter status was cancelled,’ he said.  

The ministry had earlier cancelled the freedom fighter status of over 3,940 people, including former secretaries and other highly placed government officials, following investigations, the ministry officials said and also added that many of them got back their status following the High Court Division verdicts.

They said that the ministry on November 25 asked all the deputy commissioners and upazila nirbahi officers to inform the ministry by December 15 about the reasons behind dropping the names of the freedom fighters from the digital database of the beneficiaries developed based on the information sent by the DCs and UNOs.

The ministry’s budget desk official said that till August the ministry used to disburse an estimated Tk 229 crore to the districts and upazilas for distributing Tk 12,000 monthly allowances among 1.92 lakh freedom fighters across the country.

But the digital database enforced a change, he said and added that the ministry disbursed Tk 205 crore for each of October and November for distribution among 1.71 lakh enlisted beneficiaries.

Those who used to take benefits from more than one places, used to get extra monthly allowances of Tk 12,000 each, Tk 10,000 in each of the two Eids, Tk 20,000 each as Victor Day allowance and Tk 5,000 each as Pahela Baishakh allowance,   he said.

The eminent freedom fighters and senior citizens welcomed the government move for compiling and digitising the existing lists. At the same time they criticised the government for not being able to finalise the list of the freedom fighters even after 49 years of the independence.

Former Anti-Corruption Commission chairman Ghulam Rahman said that the exclusion of 21,000 freedom fighters after digitising the database indicated that many freedom fighters used to draw benefits producing forged documents.

‘The extra money released to them must be reclaimed and they should also be punished for forgery,’ he said.

The liberation war affairs minister Mozammel Huq said that the authentic freedom fighters would get the benefits, including their arrears, after the UNOs and DCs would provide the information.

‘The freedom fighters who used to get benefits from more than one places will have to return the money and face criminal charges,’ Mozammel said.  

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