The preparation of the final list of freedom fighters is in disarray for a wrong policy and frequent changes of decisions by the liberation war affairs ministry and the Jatiya Muktijoddha Council, according to freedom fighters.
As a result, many cases were filed with different courts against the formation of screening committees and review petitions piled up because of corruption and red tape in the screening process, they told New Age on Thursday.
They see no immediate solution to the problem that ensued at the time the process began in 2017 resulting in 793 pending court cases and over 37,200 review petitions lying with the council.
Sector 3 sub-sector commander retired major general Helal Morshed Khan (Bir Bikram) thinks that making a complete list of freedom fighters above any dispute would be delayed as the process was made dependent on few selected politicians and bureaucrats.
‘The dependence of the process on politicians, who are members of the Muktijoddha Council, and bureaucrats for making the list has made the process quite similar to that initiated by the BNP-led government after they came in power in 2001,’ said Helal, the immediate past Bangladesh Muktijoddha Sangsad chairman.
‘And that was a controversial list that allowed people to enlist as freedom fighters without valid documents,’ he added.
Former Muktijoddha Sangsad chairman Abdul Ahad Chowdhury, under whose initiatives a list of freedom fighters named Mukti Barta (Lal Boi, or red book) was published, said that scrutiny of the names must be done by freedom fighters and war-time commanders.
‘For using a wrong method in preparing the list and corruption in its application, no list could be made in three and a half years while under a private initiative we made almost a flawless list in the Mukti Barta in just two and a half years,’ he said.
For corruption and abrupt decisions, Ahad said, 814 cases were filed with different courts when only 33 of them were settled in three years.
Jatiya Muktijoddha Council officials said that 12 new cases were filed till Tuesday challenging the agency’s latest decision to further screen over 21,500 applications which had been recommended for inclusion in the list of freedom fighters by upazila-level primary selection committees.
The decision came as JMC members found flaws in recommended applications, which would be further screened by three-member committees led by the relevant upazila nirbahi officer, JMC director general Md Jahangir Hossain said.
‘Two other members of the committee will be nominated by the deputy commissioner concerned from among the freedom fighters of their respective district,’ he said.
An aggrieved person explaining the reasons for his filing a case against the process said, ‘How many times will I appear for screening? We have been going through screenings for the past three years. It must come to an end.’
In 2017, JMC officials said, 470 district, upazila and city committees were formed for recommending names from 1,40,000 fresh online applications.
Soon after formation of the screening committees many aggrieved people went to the court challenging changes of members in the committees, they said.
Still, 82 committees could not send their recommendations due to cases or to disputes among committee members, they said.
More than 35,000 people being aggrieved by committee decisions that rejected their applications or gave unfavourable opinions placed review petitions to the JMC.
In addition, they said, applicants were complaining against each other every day saying that they obtained the freedom fighter status using forged documents.
The chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on liberation war affairs ministry, Shajahan Khan, also a Muktijoddha council member, said that they would soon complete the final screening of 3,500 selected ‘flawless’ applications out of a total of 25,000 recommended by primary selection committees.
But, it will take time to screen the 37,200 review applications by the eight council members, he admitted.
Liberation war affairs minister AKM Mozammel Huq, also ex-officio chairman of the council, disagreed with the opinion that the government adopted a wrong policy in preparing the list.
He, however, said the intervention of the court verdicts in the process appeared as a problem.
‘The courts are accepting all cases filed by people making the process difficult,’ Mozammel observed.
Currently 1,79,000 freedom fighters get monthly allowance and other benefits from the liberation war affairs ministry while 11,996 martyred, decorated and war-injured freedom fighters or their families get benefits from the Muktijoddha Kalyan Trust.
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