The government yesterday revoked the freedom fighters' certificates of 35 public servants who had obtained them through forgery over the past few years.
In addition, the Liberation War Affairs Ministry is investigating 300 government employees and about 5,000 people from different professions who allegedly managed the certificates by faking documents, a highly placed source in the ministry said.
The government will publish the names of the 35 in a gazette in a day or two. Departmental action against them will follow the gazette notification.
Speaking to reporters at his office, Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque said, "My ministry will ask the public administration ministry to cancel the privileges and financial benefits of these people."
Those who lost the certificates include Sheikh Alauddin, deputy secretary (now an OSD), Solaiman Chowdhury, additional general manager of Chittagong railway, Golam Rob Mollah, former manager of Jamuna Oil, and ATM Abdul Hye, executive officer of Sonali Bank.
The move 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.
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.
The minister said the government would not consider anyone as a freedom fighter if he was below 13 at the time of the war, as that would be "unrealistic".
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.
The Anti-Corruption Commission is currently investigating the allegation that some other top government officials obtained fake freedom fighters' certificates at the fag end of their service life during the tenure of the Awami League government.
They include Khandakar Shawkat Hossain, expatriates welfare and overseas employment secretary, Niaz Uddin Mia, health secretary, KH Masud Siddiqui, Liberation War Affairs secretary, AKM Amir Hossain, Public Service Commission secretary, Molla Waheeduzzaman, privatisation commission chairman, and Md Abul Kashem Talukder, former joint secretary of Liberation War Affairs (now an OSD).
"After identifying the fake freedom fighters we will also find out those who helped them obtain the certificates. I have already taken the initiative and I will finish it," the minister told The Daily Star.
Contacted, former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder said providing false documents is a criminal offence.
"The public servants who provided forged documents and are still in their jobs will face both departmental and legal action. But those who have already retired will face legal action only, as departmental action is not applicable to them," he added.
Asked about the departmental action, he said the officials might even lose their jobs.
The other officials who lost the certificates are Shafiqur Rahman of Railway ministry, Abdul Wares and Shafiqul Haque of home ministry, Azahar Ali Khan of health ministry, ANM Bazlul Rashid of land ministry, ATM Shajahan, Rawson Alam, Abu Hossain Miah, Mojibur Rahman, AKM Habibullah and Ranjit Kumar Roy of primary and mass education ministry, Danesh Miah of education ministry, Abbas Ali Khan of agriculture ministry, Sheikh Mahabubul Alam (currently in LPR) of National Board of Revenue, AKM Jalal and Hasem Ali of LGRD ministry, Joynal Abedin and KA Nizahar Uddin of disaster management ministry, Delowar Hossain and Nurunabbi Patwari of Tax Zone-2, Abul Hossain and Mohammad Ali of upazila education office of Asasuni in Satkhira, Harun-or-Rashid Khan of Dhaka DC office and Shahajad Azim of Munshiganj DC office.
Also on the list are Solaiman Biswas, MA Majid, Nur Islam, Belal Hossain and Abdul Malek. Their identities could not be immediately known.
Earlier, the ministry cancelled the certificates of some 116 fake freedom fighters.
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.