THE preparation of a comprehensive, final list of freedom fighters appears to have run into problems because of, as freedom fighters seek to say, wrong policies and frequent changes in decisions by the liberation war affairs ministry and the Jatiya Muktijoddha Council, or the national council of freedom fighters, an autonomous public entity which is responsible for the welfare of freedom fighters. A situation like this, as New Age reported on Saturday, has resulted in cases being filed against the establishment of the screening committees and in review petitions being piled up, which freedom fighters seek to say has happened because of corruption and bureaucratic tangles in the process. Freedom fighters see no early resolution of the problems that began in 2017 when the process began, with 793 cases now pending with court and more than 37,200 review petitions lying with the council. There had been 814 cases filed with the court and 33 of them could be settled in three years. But then, 12 more cases have been filed challenging the council’s latest decision, as the council officials are reported to have said, to further screen more than 21,500 applications already recommended by upazila primary selection committees for their inclusion in the list.
In 2017, when the latest process began, 470 district, upazila and city committees were set up to recommend names from among 1,40,000 fresh applications filed online. Eighty-two committees are reported not yet having been able to send their recommendations because of either cases filed with the court or disputes among committee members. All this should come to an end for an authentic list of freedom fighters. At least six initiatives are reported to have been made since 1988 to prepare a complete list of freedom fighters and 35 official notifications on lists of freedom fighters are reported to have been issued since 1998, yet none of them are complete, as New Age reported in the last week of May quoting the liberation war affairs minister. A situation like this seems not only to be delaying the process of the preparation of a comprehensive, final list of freedom fighters, which is of utmost importance in the interest of historical records, but also to be aggravating the situation that the freedom fighters have been facing. Many of them have had to face screening several times and yet, the trouble that they face does not seem to be nearing an end. Such a situation also means disrespect to the freedom fighters.
The government, in what has so far followed, must look into the issues, including corruption and bureaucratic tangles as alleged, that hold back or delay the preparation of an authentic, final and complete list of freedom fighters, which has also been long overdue. And in doing, so the government must shrug off prejudice, if any, political or otherwise.
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