• Friday, October 24, 2014

4 secys guilty

ACC finds they resorted to forgery for war hero certificates; privatisation body chief did same

Partha Pratim Bhattacharjee and M Rahman

Five top government officials resorted to forgery to obtain freedom fighters' certificate.   

Three of them are secretaries, one is a joint secretary and the other is chairman of the privatisation commission. The Anti-Corruption Commission has found that they took the certificates illegally to extend their service period last year.

ACC Deputy Director Zulfikar Ali, who investigated the five, submitted the probe report to the commission yesterday.

The report recommended that the authorities revoke their certificates and take legal and departmental action against them, sources said.

The five are Health Secretary Niaz Uddin Mia, Public Service Commission Secretary AKM Amir Hossain, former Liberation War Affairs secretary KH Masud Siddiqui (now an OSD), former joint secretary of Liberation War Affairs ministry Abul Kashem Talukder (currently an OSD) and Privatisation Commission Chairman Molla Waheeduzzaman.

ACC Commissioner Shahabuddin told The Daily Star that they took the certificates through improper procedures.

A top ACC official said they submitted fake documents to obtain the certificates. They also did not appear before the Jatiya Muktijoddha Council for the mandatory verification of their participation in the war.    

Contacted, Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque said he was yet to receive the report. "We will take action in line with the Anti-Corruption

 

Commission's recommendation. The ministry will go tough on them if found guilty." 

Of the five, Niaz Uddin, Amir Hossain, Masud Siddiqui and Abul Kashem took the certificates towards the end of their service period late last year. Molla Waheeduzzaman took it after retiring as secretary of the Prime Minister's Office, sources said.      

Siddiqui was made an Officer on Special Duty (OSD) on August 18. A government probe body has recently accused him of purchasing subpar crests awarded to foreign friends for their contributions to the 1971 Liberation War.  

According to the papers submitted by Waheeduzzaman, he was 16 years old at the time of the war. The others were below 16, commission sources said.

On August 10, the public administration ministry decided to take action under criminal law against those who obtained freedom fighters' certificates by faking documents to extend their service tenure. 

It also decided to cancel the additional benefits of those who did not declare themselves as freedom fighters when they joined the service.

None of these five in question declared themselves as freedom fighters when they entered government service, according to the ACC sources.

The government has revoked freedom fighters' certificates of 182 government officials so far this year, as they obtained those through cheating.

The ministry is now investigating 300 more government employees and about 5,000 people from different professions who allegedly obtained the certificates by faking documents in the last few years.

In November 2012, the Awami League-led 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.

After the decision, many public servants fraudulently took freedom fighters' certificates to extend their service tenure.

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.      

Over the past five years, some 11,150 people from different professions got freedom fighters' certificates, sources said.

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.  

Published: 12:02 am Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Last modified: 10:07 pm Wednesday, September 03, 2014

TAGS: Liberation War Anti-Corruption Commission anti-graft body certificates privatisation investigating Health Secretary Niaz Uddin Mia Public Service Commission Secretary AKM Amir Hossain floodeater

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