Incredulity is stretched to the limits. Government offices, so it seems, have no shortage of fake freedom fighters.
Two weeks ago, the government revoked the freedom fighters' certificates of 35 public servants who had obtained those through forgery. It is now going to strip 27 more government employees of the honour that they obtained through cheating.
National Security Intelligence (NSI) has prepared the latest list, which it sent to the Liberation War Affairs Ministry late last month. The ministry is likely to publish the list in a couple of days.
Those on the list include a joint secretary, an executive director of Bangladesh Bank, executive engineers, tax officers, primary school teachers and accountants.
"We have received the list of 27 fake freedom fighters. We will announce it in the next two or three days," Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque told The Daily Star yesterday.
Some 5,000 more people, including 300 government employees, are also being investigated for fraudulently obtaining freedom fighters' certificates.
"If the allegations are found to be true, we will cancel their certificates gradually," the minister added.
On July 21, the ministry revoked the certificates of 35 public servants, also on the basis of NSI investigation. Earlier, 116 fake war heroes were stripped of the title.
The latest list shows that 20 of the 27 public servants obtained the certificates during the 2009-13 tenure of the Awami League government. The seven others acquired those during the tenure of the BNP-led alliance government from 2001 to 2006.
The Daily Star has obtained a copy of the list, signed by Enayet Ullah Khan Yusufzai, senior assistant secretary of the ministry.
The NSI in its report said none of these people could produce any documentary evidence to prove that they were freedom fighters.
The report comes amid widespread allegations that a large number of government officials fraudulently obtained freedom fighters' certificates over the past few years to extend their service period by one year.
In November 2012, the government extended the retirement age of freedom fighters from 59 years to 60. Earlier in April 2010, their retirement age was extended by two years from 57.
Following the 2012 extension, the number of freedom fighters in government services stood at around 11,000.
Of them, those in the final years of their service now were at best 15 or 16 years old during the Liberation War in 1971.
To identify fake freedom fighters in the civil bureaucracy, the government's first consideration was the age of the officials at the time of the Liberation War in 1971.
At present, there are some 2.12 lakh freedom fighters. The number was 1.98 lakh in the 2002 gazette published during the period of BNP-Jamaat rule.
Under the rules, freedom fighters, their children and grandchildren enjoy 30 percent quota in government jobs. In addition, freedom fighters' children and grandchildren get special quotas in public schools, colleges and universities.
There are allegations that many government employees obtained freedom fighters' certificates through forgery to have their children and grandchildren avail those benefits.