On 12 January his year, the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs issued a gazette notification to form a freedom fighter scrutinising committee at city, district and upazila levels. A total of 488 committees have been formed at the upazila level and eight at the city level. The committees began working on 21 January. Liberation war affairs minister AKM Mozammel Haque talked to Prothom Alo about the issue. The interview was taken by Rozina Islam.
Prothom Alo: The freedom fighter scrutiny committees face many allegations. Do you think that the committees can accurately identify genuine freedom fighters?
Mozammel Haque: Non-freedom fighters have no chance of being enlisted as freedom fighters. There are six selectors. Every applicant is being interviewed openly and in front of all committee members. If any member raises a question against any of the aspirants, the accused should provide the details of his or her role in the war. If they can satisfy the team, only then can they get freedom fighter certificates.
PA: So far 150 thousand people have applied for recognition as freedom fighters. How many of them will eventually be picked?
MH: Not more than 5 thousand.
PA: Why is the committee repeatedly being changed?
MH: A committee was formed one and a half years ago. Some new committees have been made afterwards. The new committee dropped those who faced allegations. Some of the committees have been scrapped.
PA: How much time will this scrutinising process take? How will it be done?
MH: The procedure will end by 18 February. Consequently, all reports will reach the ministry by 25 February. Some of the reports have already reached us. The final list will be displayed at every upazila office across the country. If anyone is missed, they can appeal for further scrutiny.
PA: You said few reports have already reached the ministry. How many have been selected so far?
MH: According to the information received so far, 200 people applied for recognition in most of the thanas. But that fact is that only two or three have been recognised.
PA: Is there any chance to appeal if not selected?
MH: If anyone feels they haven’t been given a fair deal, they can appeal. If any allegation is found against the selected ones, there is also a chance to revise the list.
PA: What kind of action will be taken against them?
MH: If any specific allegation is found, action must be taken. If anyone has given fake witness, they will be sentenced to three years imprisonment.
PA: Most expatriate Bangladeshis haven’t been able to. Is there any arrangement for them?
MH: Forms will be sent to those living abroad. They can mail their forms back through the relevant Bangladesh embassy.
PA: How about digital identity cards (ID) for freedom fighters?
MH: Certificates and hi-tech ID cards will be handed over to the freedom fighters within 26 January.
*The interview originally published in Prothom Alo is rewritten by Toriqul Islam