FF benefit disbursement irregularities unacceptable

Published: 00:00, Dec 02,2020


THE benefit frauds that have come up in an estimated 21,000 names of freedom fighters having been dropped from the beneficiary database, developed by the liberation war affairs ministry in October, on grounds of name repetition are a shame for the nation that earned its independence by fighting a liberation war and humiliation for other freedom fighters who fought the war. The database, based on 33 gazette notifications or documents after verifying the names against national identity cards of freedom fighters or their heirs, has found that a number of freedom fighters used to take monthly allowances and other benefits from more than one places exploiting the manual system as many freedom fighters are named in more than one notifications. The liberation war affairs ministry used to disburse about Tk 229 crore in monthly allowance of Tk 12,000 to each of 1.92 lakh freedom fighters till August. The database has listed 1.71 lakh beneficiaries. All this points to corruption and inefficiency of the local administration that has failed to detect the irregularities.

While the benefit frauds, reportedly done by many freedom fighters and their heirs with the help of local representatives and administration, warrants punitive action, the failure of successive governments to complete a comprehensive list of freedom fighters in 49 years is highly unacceptable. A comprehensive list of the freedom fighters and regular updates on their places of living given on their national identity cards could have helped to stave off such frauds. A comprehensive list is also of utmost importance in the interest of historical records and of the posterity. It is unlikely for the government to give the honour and benefits that the freedom fighters deserve with a flawed list having been in place. The ministry is reported to have also cancelled the freedom fighter status of more than 3,940 people, including former secretaries and some highly placed government officials, after investigations while there are about 1,200 cases pending in court and more than 37,200 review petitions lying with Jatiya Muktijoddha Council concerning the list. In March, the liberation war affairs minister said that some 201,461 people had received freedom fighter’s benefits from the government.

Varying figures point to but a chaotic list and corruption in the disbursement of monthly allowances and other benefits among freedom fighters. The liberation war affairs ministry must, therefore, attend to the issue of corruption and benefit frauds and take punitive actions against the people responsible. The ministry must also complete a comprehensive list of freedom fighters so that the nation can honour and award the deserved. With the country entering its 50th year of independence, it is a shame not to have a comprehensive list of freedom fighters.

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