Amid widespread allegations of forgery for obtaining freedom fighters' certificates, the government is going to conduct a massive scrutiny of the relevant official records.
About 70,000 people have obtained the certificates, although their names are not included either in the "Red Book" or the Indian government's list, according to sources in the Liberation War Affairs Ministry.
Most of the allegations of forgery are against them, the sources added.
The Red Book or "Mukti Barta" was prepared by the Awami League government during its 1996-2001 tenure, which contained around 1.54 lakh freedom fighters. The Indian government in 1973 had sent a list of 69,509 freedom fighters who received training in that country. Of them, the freedom fighters who applied for certificates were included in the Red Book.
“The ministry will start the scrutiny next month. It will be complete in two months,” Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque told The Daily Star on Tuesday.
He said they would check the names that were not included in the Red Book or the Indian government's list.
Besides, after 43 years of the liberation, the government has also decided to finalise a definition of freedom fighters as the ministry has been facing problems to identify the war heroes in the absence of a clear definition of freedom fighters.
Former chairman of Muktijoddha Sangsad central command council Ahad Chowdhury said the government initiatives were very good, but the scrutiny should be done by actual freedom fighters.
After scrutinising these 70,000 people, the ministry will also investigate the freedom fighters whose names were included in the Red Book. The ministry thinks that many fake freedom fighters were included in the Red Book, sources said.
The ministry has made the decision in efforts to prepare a final and authentic freedom fighters' list.
Over the past 43 years since liberation, successive governments have prepared five lists of freedom fighters, but every list was incomplete.
The number of freedom fighters on the first list made in 1987 during the rule of HM Ershad was 69,000, while the number shot up to 1.8 lakh in 1988, only to slide to 83,000 in 1994.
In 1999, during the AL government, the count rose to 1.54 lakh. The number stood at 1.98 lakh in the list prepared by the BNP government in 2002. The number of freedom fighters is now 2.12 lakh.
Besides, 1.02 lakh applications for freedom fighters' certificates are pending.
A meeting of Jatiya Muktijoddha Council on August 6 took the decision to finalise a definition of freedom fighters and formed a sub-committee with former Primary and Mass Education minister Motaher Hossain as chief.
About the decision, Mozammel Haque said the ministry wanted to provide freedom fighters' certificates only to those who actively participated in the war and that their task would be easier after finalising the definition.
According to the Bangladesh (Freedom Fighters) Welfare Trust Order, 1972, a freedom fighter is a "person who served as a member of any force engaged in the war of liberation but shall not include the serving members of the defence services, police or the civil armed forces, or any government pensioner, or any other person having any regular source of income."
But the ministry thinks this definition is incomplete.