Rising Enrollment of Brave Freedom Fighters and Civic Leaders
The National Freedom Fighters Council (JAMUCA) has proposed the inclusion of approximately 11,000 individuals as recognized brave freedom fighters during the current term of the ruling Awami League government. This list encompasses mayors, members of parliament, secretaries, and their close relatives.
Despite 52 years of independence, an accurate and definitive list of brave freedom fighters has remained elusive. This issue has been a topic of debate throughout different administrations. The incomplete list has led to the inclusion of individuals who did not participate in the liberation war, further complicating matters.
JAMUCA holds the legal authority to compile the list of brave freedom fighters. Over the past five years (2019 to 2023) under the current government, JAMUCA has recommended 10,891 individuals for gazettement as brave freedom fighters. Former ministers and members of parliament have played a role in recommending names, some of whom are also members of JAMUCA. During this period, the names of 2,190 individuals were removed from the gazette.
In a meeting held on April 11 of the previous year, it was decided to recognize Abul Khair Abdullah, the current mayor of Barisal City Corporation, as a brave freedom fighter. Documents from the meeting suggest that he had participated in the liberation war in sector number 9. However, his freedom fighter certificate was lost.
Member of Parliament for Gaibandha-4 Constituency, Manowar Hossain Chowdhury, sought inclusion in the gazette as a heroic freedom fighter. His application was initially rejected due to a lack of a DGI number, but he was later gazetted as a brave freedom fighter in a subsequent meeting.
Prime Minister’s Press Secretary, Ihsanul Karim, was recommended for recognition as a brave freedom fighter by JAMUCA. His application faced scrutiny, but ultimately, he was recommended for gazettement.
Shajahan Khan, a JAMUCA member and president of the parliamentary committee related to the Ministry of Liberation War, recommended Hemayet Uddin of Patuakhali’s Baufal to be recognized as a brave freedom fighter. Similarly, former minister and Member of Parliament Mostafizur Rahman recommended the names of Zahurul Haque and Rafiqul Haque of Fulbari Upazila of Dinajpur for gazettement.
Former Home Minister and Member of Parliament Rafiqul Islam recommended Gazi Abdus Sattar of Maheshkhali in Cox’s Bazar to be certified as a freedom fighter. Ilyas Uddin Mollah, Member of Parliament for Dhaka-16 Constituency, recommended Lutfur Rahman of Chitalmari Upazila of Bagerhat for recognition, highlighting his exclusion from previous gazettes.
Former Cabinet Secretary Kabir Bin Anwar recommended the posthumous recognition of Iman Ali, husband of Shahanara Begum of Bhangura Upazila of Pabna, as a freedom fighter.Member of Parliament and JAMUCA Member Mosharraf Hossain recommended the revision of the gazette for Nurul Momin of Chittagong.
Member of Parliament Abul Hasanat Abdullah recommended four individuals from Agailjhara Upazila of Barisal to be gazetted as brave freedom fighters, although this decision was noted as a special consideration and not a precedent.
Shahriar Kabir, president of the Khatak Dalal Nirmul Committee of 1971, emphasized the need for scrutiny and verification in recognizing brave freedom fighters and called for identifying and punishing those who attempt to falsely claim this status.
Some individuals sought not only recognition but also corrections to their names in the gazette. Former Minister and Member of Parliament Imaj Uddin Prang Bir Muktijoddha applied to amend the gazette to include his name accurately.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal’s application for recognition was rejected due to insufficient evidence of his freedom fighter status.
Member of Parliament Colonel (retd) Muhammad Farooq Khan’s gazettement was under review, with the army headquarters being consulted to ascertain the truth of his claims.
AKM Mozammel Haque, Minister of Liberation War Affairs and Chairman of JAMUCA, explained the process of gazettement and acknowledged that some names were considered under special circumstances, often with recommendations from the Prime Minister’s office.
Over the past 52 years of independence, the list of brave freedom fighters has undergone multiple revisions and additions. Various governments have prepared different lists, and the number of recognized freedom fighters has fluctuated. This has resulted in ambiguity regarding the actual number of brave freedom fighters in the country, with estimates ranging from 1 lakh 47 thousand to 2 lakh 35 thousand.
Liberation war researchers have noted that recognition as a brave freedom fighters carries social and financial benefits. Recognized freedom fighters receive a monthly allowance and other perks, making the recognition a sought-after status. However, concerns have been raised about the increasing number of individuals seeking recognition, including high-ranking government officials, leading to questions about the political nature of the process.”
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