THE victorious war for national liberation in 1971 was the single most important event, unmatched by any others, in the history of Bangladesh. It shook the nation, left people dead, women raped and children shorn of their parents in hundred of thousands of them. It inspired the people to move forward on a footing built on the sacrifice of blood and decorated with the most glorious moments of the nation’s history. There is, therefore, no doubt that the people who took part in the war, the freedom fighters, those who fought the liberation war and served the war in other forms, were, and are, the bravest children of the soil and, therefore, the most honoured. But what came as disparaging is that the government has continually been lowering the minimum age for being recognised as freedom fighters, The government, as notified in an official gazette on Wednesday, has now set the minimum age of individuals at 12 years and a half as of November 30, 1971 to be recognised as freedom fighters. The previous notification, issued on June 19, 2017, had the minimum age of 13 years for the recognition as freedom fighters. Keeping another notification issued in 2014, the minimum age was 15 years.
The more the nation is leaving past the war for national independence, the further the minimum age is lowered for people to be eligible as freedom fighters. A political ploy is, understandably involved, which revolves round the distribution of favour, both financial in the form of allowance and social, to people of the choice of the powers that be. The whole process is pulling down the greatest of the sacrifice of the people, the ideology that worked behind it during the war, to the level of mere monetary benefits while it slaps the genuine freedom fighters in the face. By doing this, the people behind the move that keeps lowering the minimum age for the recognition as freedom fighters are insulting the nation and blowing a dent into the pride that people who had really fought for their country. There may, of course, be some children who took part in the independence war. But to afford the due honour they are entitled to, there could be a case-by-case investigation, analysis and identification to keep the record straight, instead of a blanket move that could degenerate the pride and the glory of the nation. Such cases are exceptions and better left to be exceptions than norms.
The situation has become so ludicrous that some of the people who take such moves of continually lowering the minimum age of individuals for the recognition as freedom fighters, with an unholy aim to distribute monetary and social favour to people of their choice, out of partisan interest, could very well appear that they may not have themselves took part in the liberation war. While many of the freedom fighters are in a better condition, many of them, even after being recognised or without being recognised as freedom fighters, are still in a bad shape, socially and financially. There is no reason to add to their pain by making the issue of participation in the freedom war so unthoughtful. The authorities must, therefore, resolve the issue once and for all in graceful way at a graceful level for all.
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