The government move to verify and register freedom fighters, is likely to face a setback as the guidelines are not being followed properly, the minister and officials admit.
The verification process in upazila, district and metropolitan areas began on 21 January. Out of 488 committees, the National Freedom Fighters Council has received recommendations from 341 committees with about 100,000 names. The number will increase to nearly 150,000 after recommendations of all committees are submitted.
Officials at the liberation war affairs ministry said a section of ministers and MPs has influenced the recommendations.
Officials said it is not possible to make an accurate list of freedom fighters during the tenure of present government by 2019.
In last 46 years, the list of freedom fighters changed six times.
According to the ministry, the government allocated Tk 50 million to make the new list of freedom fighters.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, liberation affairs minister AKM Mozammel Haque said, “Names of 100,000 freedom fighters have been recommended. Many committees have not followed the guidelines. There are allegations of influence by MPs.”
The government has a list of 231,000 freedom fighters. There are allegations that many enlisted as freedom fighters are not genuine. Many applied to be included in the list. Under the circumstances, the government issued a gazette on 12 January for verification and to consider the new applicants. Committees at upazila, districts and metropolitan areas were formed to do the process.
The committees were not reportedly formed as per the guidelines.
According to the ministry, in many areas the upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) reportedly did not follow the procedures.
Due to influence by local MPs and influentials, many names were included as freedom fighters.
Deputy leader of the house of Parliament Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury in a demo official (DO) letter requested the liberation affairs minister to include her name in the committee dropping the name of the local freedom fighter.
Food minister Quamrul Islam recommended including a certain Golam Kibria Bakhtiar of Barisal on the freedom fighter list.
State minister for women and children Meher Afroz Chumki, who was elected MP from Kapasia of Gazipur, has recommended inclusion of Imtiaz Ahmed on the list.
Officials at the ministry said names of fake freedom fighters were not dropped. MPs recommended names for inclusion to their choices.
Kabirul Haque, an MP of Narail-1, alleged that the committee of Kalia upazila took Tk 200,000 from each as bribe to include those who were merely 9 or 10 years old during the liberation war of 1971.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, Kabirul Haque said, “What has happened in my constituency, happened nowhere else before.
President of the committee Imdadul Haque has taken hundred thousands of taka to include people in the list.”
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.