War heroes honoured
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said a process is underway to declare all the national award-winning and war-wounded freedom fighters as the Very Important Persons (VIPs).
“Besides, freedom fighters will be allowed to take free journey in buses, trains and launches,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina, who is also in-charge of the defence ministry, was addressing a reception accorded to gallantry award-winning freedom fighters and their successors at Senakunja at Dhaka Cantonment marking the Armed Forces Day 2009.
Meanwhile, President and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces Zillur Rahman placed wreaths at Shikha Anirban (eternal flame) at the cantonment, marking the Armed Forces Day. After departure of the president, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina placed wreaths at the Shikha Anirban.
The reception was attended by 35 freedom fighters from the three services and 11 civil freedom fighters and their successors.
The prime minister sought cooperation of the people of all walks of lives in turn Bangladesh into a modern developed country in line with its election pledge.
She said Awami League always worked for the welfare of the freedom fighters and their families.
During the 1996-2001 tenure, she said, the then Awami League government introduced allowance for freedom fighters, quota facilities for their children in government jobs and many other welfare activities, including preserving memories of the liberation war.
She said the Awami League government has kept the process on in its present tenure as well.
The prime minister presented before the freedom fighters all the steps taken by the present government since it has assumed office.
She said the sate allowance for 7,838 freedom fighters under the Muktijoddha Kalyan Trust and martyred families has been increased by 40 percent while the number of freedom fighters receiving underprivileged allowance has also been increased to 1.25 lakh from the previous 1 lakh and their allowance has also been increased to Tk 1,500 from 900.
The government has increased medical allowances for the war-wounded freedom fighters apart from taking a programme for providing rations to the martyred and wounded freedom fighters' families.
During the last fiscal, Tk 108 crore was given in allowance to 1 lakh underprivileged freedom fighters while Tk 72 lakh was given in financial assistance to 1,480 freedom fighters for marrying off their daughters and meeting medical, educational and house building expenses, she mentioned.
The other steps taken by the government included free transport facilities for freedom fighters of 65 years of age and above, modern training for the wards of the freedom fighters to build them as skilled human resources and keeping aside 30 percent quota in government and semi-government jobs for their children.
Besides, the army persons who are freedom fighters will get special facility in housing projects of the Armed Forces and steps are underway to name various streets of the city after the freedom fighters of the Armed Forces, Hasina said adding, “Arrangements are also being made for reforming the residential places of the armed forces freedom fighters.”
Hasina said the government has also taken steps to complete the construction work on the Victory Monument at the city's Suhrawardy Udyan.
She said the government has taken measures for preserving all memories of the liberation war, identifying and preserving mass graves, collecting names and identities of the martyred people and constructing memorials.
The prime minister, in her speech, paid rich tributes to all the martyred, including father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
She also expressed her deep sympathy for the families of all the martyred and war-wounded freedom fighters. “I can feel the pain of losing the dearest ones. So many years, months I have spent without my father, mother and brothers!” the prime minister said in an emotion-soaked voice.
In the reception, the prime minister presented gifts to 46 award winning freedom fighters and family members, including close relatives of Shaheed Captain Mohiuddin Jahangir Bir Shrestha, Shaheed Sepoy Hamidur Rahman Bir Shrestha, Shaheed Sepoy Muhammad Mustafa Kamal Bir Shrestha, Shaheed Muhammad Ruhul Amin Bir Shrestha, Shaheed Flight Lieutenant M Matiur Rahman Bir Shrestha, Shaheed Lance Naik Nur Muhammad Sheikh Bir Shrestha and Shaheed Lance Naik Munshi Abdur Rauf Bir Shrestha.
Chief of Army Staff Major General Md Abdul Mubeen, Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral ZU Ahmed, and Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal SM Ziaur Rahman presented a memento to the prime minister.
The chiefs of the three services also paid courtesy call on the prime minister at the Armed Forces Division at the Dhaka Cantonment.
State Minister for Liberation War Affairs Captain (retd) AB Tajul Islam, Security Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister Maj Gen (retd) Tarique Ahmed Siddique, Chief of the three services and senior civil and military officers were present on the occasion.