The liberation war affairs ministry has missed the fifth deadline it set for publishing the complete list of freedom fighters and the latest one expires today with 1,200 pending court cases and over 37,200 review petitions lying with Jatiya Muktijoddha Council.
Liberation war affairs minister AKM Mozammel Huq told press on December 15, after missing the fourth deadline, that the list of FFs would be published on the 49th independence day to be celebrated today.
But, he again failed to keep his promise as none of the 492 UNOs till March 24 provided information as asked by the ministry in January for removing the repetitions of names of the freedom fighters enlisted in 36 separate gazettes and lists preserved with the ministry, Mozammel said.
These lists containing 2,51,285 names were made in several phases by different governments and Bangladesh Muktijoddha Sangsad where some names had been repeated in 12 such lists, he said. ‘Even my name is included in five lists,’ he said.
Some 2,01,461 people are receiving benefits from the government as freedom fighters, he said adding that some freedom fighters got benefit under two categories and some genuine freedom fighters did not take any.
The UNOs, he said, were also asked to upload online six specific data against each entry while compiling the lists. The compiled list would be verified by the ministry, he added.
In February, he said, another reminder was passed. ‘After removing repetitions, we had the plan to publish it as one list by adding 1,589 names as recommended by the Jatiya Muktijoddha Council following the screening of over 1,50,000 fresh applications for enlistment as FFs,’ he said.
Talking to New Age, 15 UNOs said that they were awfully busy with coronavirus mitigation activities. They also said that they could not obey the ministry order before as they were overburdened with tasks assigned to them by 17 ministries and for their involvements in various other works in upazilas.
The researchers and reputed freedom fighters criticised the incumbent government for missing the deadline for the fifth time since 2017.
They were upset for not having a complete list of the freedom fighters on the 49th independence day of the country even though definition of freedom fighter and minimum age for inclusion in the list were changed time and again while at least six moves were initiated since 1988 to prepare the list.
‘It is ridicules that the government is struggling to make a list of the freedom fighters for the past three years since the ministry initiated the upazila-level screening in 2017, former Muktijoddha Sangsad chairman Abdul Ahad Chowdhury said.
‘Problem is that the ministry does not learn from its mistakes and do not even take suggestions,’ said Ahad, under whose initiative a list of freedom fighters named Mukti Barta (Lal Boi, or red book) was published in 2000.
‘We have been saying that the ministry’s dependency only on the UNOs and selected politicians and freedom fighters considering their political colour will not yield satisfactory result. It would rather intensify the problem,’ he said.
As a result, he said, about 1,200 cases were pending with the courts when 37,200 review applications were pending with Jatiya Muktijoddha Council since it initiated the screening in 2017.
‘If the government is happy to publish a single list based on the said 36 lists by just removing the names that were repeated, we have to assume that except for the repetitions the government did not notice any other anomalies in those lists,’ said Sector 3 sub-sector commander retired major general Bir Bikram Helal Morshed Khan.
‘But, we know that none of the lists was beyond controversy,’ said Helal, the immediate past Muktijoddha Sangsad chairman.
‘We also witnessed that some people made money while they were in charge of screening the 1.5 lakh fresh applications in the recent years,’ he added.
Mozammel Huq, however, expressed his hope for publishing a list soon after getting the compilation task done by the UNOs.
‘Meanwhile cancellation process will continue through verification of allegations against the listed freedom fighters,’ he said.
Muktijoddha Council officials said that the government had to reinstate the status of freedom fighters to those who won legal battles in courts though they had been rejected by the council following investigations.
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