No proper list of freedom fighters in 40 years
Even after 40 years of the country’s independence, the authorities are yet to prepare a final and authentic list of the freedom fighters.
Successive governments cited different numbers of freedom fighters with five different lists, according sources in the liberation war affairs ministry and Muktijoddha Sangsad.
Four of these lists were drafts while only one was pub-lished through a government gazette according to which there were 202,300 freedom fighters in the country.
Meanwhile some 62,000 applications have been filed with the government to drop the names of the so-called fake freedom fighters while about 130,000 applications were made for adding new names into the list, Monirul Haque, one of the three secretaries general of Bangladesh Muktijoddha Sangsad Kendriyo Command Council, told New Age.
The objection reports were under investigation, he said.
However, certificates were handed over to freedom fighters in 1972 from the government and signed by General Muhammad Ataul Gani Osmani, the supreme Commander of Bangladesh Forces during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.
This selection, however, did not reflect in any of the lists prepared subsequently. A national list was prepared in 1986 that had around 102,458 names in it.
Yet another list was prepared in the same year by Muktijoddha Welfare Trust under the supervision of brigadier general Amin Ahmed Chowdhury.
This list was prepared by collecting the lists of freedom fighters who were trained at different training camps in India and based on immigration forms filled in by freedom fighters while entering India in 1971. The list had around 69,833 freedom fighters. The Indian government sent the forms to the Bangladesh Army in 1973.
All these lists were faulty as they were not properly scrutinised while freedom fighters of the Mujib Bahini and other Gana Bahini forces were excluded.
Another list, popularly known as ‘voter index list’, was prepared in 1994 under the supervision of brigadier general AJM Aminul Haque. It enlisted 86,000 names of freedom fighters and was actually a voter list prepared for the election of Bangladesh Muktijoddha Sangsad.
Yet another list was prepared between 1996 and 2001 that is popularly known as the ‘Mukti Barta Lal Boi’. It had the names of 186,790 freedom fighters in it primarily, and after scrutiny the figure stood at around 154,000.
The number of freedom fighters increased to 2.10 lakh during the tenure of the BNP-led four-party alliance government in 2005 from the 2002 figure of 154,000.
Sector commander M Hamidullah Khan, liberation war affairs secretary of BNP, said the government was mocking with the nation about listing freedom fighters by ignoring and omitting the names of many genuine freedom fighters.
The state minister for liberation war affairs, ABM Tajul Islam, however, claimed that there was no debate about freedom fighters’ list. ‘We have a list,’ he told New Age.
There are about 206,000 freedom fighters enlisted in the gazette issued by the liberation war affairs ministry till December 2011, said Islam.
‘We didn’t cancel last gazette issued by the previous government rather we are scrutinizing the list based on objection of the people regarding many fake freedom fighters,’ he said.
‘We have cancelled about 2000/3000 certificates of the fake freedom fighters so far, as we found their certificates did not have prove of being freedom fighter or were tampered and so on,’ he added.
He said that primarily, Bangladesh Muktijoddha Sangsad Kendriyo Command Council received objections about 62,000 ‘fake freedom fighters’ and after scrutiny they were investigating about 52,000 reports.
Tajul Islam said they received allegations that thousands of ‘so-called’ freedom fighters were enlisted in the last list. ‘I am afraid that many collaborators might have been enlisted as freedom fighters,’ he added.
He said the government has taken steps to make a database with the names and family details of the freedom fighters in the country by June 2013.
The database will help to end long-standing debate over the freedom fighters’ list.
A database is essential for systematic check up of the authenticity of freedom fighters’ certificates forwarded by different ministries for employment in public offices and enrolment in public educational institutes and other areas under freedom fighters’ quota, he said.
Syed Mojibul Huq, programme director of freedom fighters database, said a database would help to resolve questions of fake certificates, duplication and corruption regarding the freedom fighters list.
The database will help the government and non-government organisations to provide humanitarian assistance to ailing and insolvent freedom fighters, he said.
The database project is likely to be completed by December 2012.