War heroine Rahela still at war with life | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 22, 2014 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:53 AM, March 08, 2015

War heroine Rahela still at war with life

War heroine Rahela still at war with life

War heroine Rahela Begum. PHOTO: STAR
War heroine Rahela Begum. PHOTO: STAR

Rahela Begum, a war heroine (birangona), still fights for her existence - 42 years after independence. Despite her supreme sacrifice for the nation, Rahela is yet to get recognition from the authorities. She has to carry on the curse of history and face the harsh reality of revealing her tale, the tale of Rahela. One of her daughters were divorced while another daughter is yet to get married. Chompa Khatun, daughter of Rahela is now staying with her mother along with a three year old child. Chompa was divorced last year, after an interview of Rahela was telecast in a television channel.
“A television channel telecast my interview. After I revealed the tale of and curse of my life, my daughter was subject to immense torture from her in-laws. At one stage last year, she was divorced,” Rahela told the Daily Star. Chompa was married to Milon of village Goalia in Sirajganj Sadar upazila in 2008. Rahela lamented that her younger daughter is yet to get married till now due to the curse of her life. Her son is yet to get better job for the same reason, according to Rahela. Lamenting her fate, she said, “I have not received recognition from the government even after 42 years of independence. There is nobody to look after my poverty-stricken family.” Rahela, wife of Akbar Hossain, and her father took shelter in a house of Belgati village of Sirajganj district during the liberation war. That is where the occupation troops found them; and attacked and violated her. Her husband left her after the incident. "The men of the then Rokhhi Bahini men managed to save my family.” she added.
Along with her children, she lives at a slum of Soyadhangora area of the district headquarter. Her divorcee daughter Chompa and her son work as day labourer to provide for the family. Rahela went to Shahbagh in February 2013 to join thousands of people demanding the punishment of war criminals. She also spoke out amongst mass rallies at Shahbagh. “We are so unfortunate that our names are not included in freedom fighter list since 42 years of independence. We do not get support from the government or the society despite our supreme sacrifice,” cries Rahela.
Like Rahela, there are many women of Sirajganj who had suffered indescribable cruelties at the hands of the Pakistani army, the curse of which have to carry as long as they may live. Of them, 35 war heroines were identified after the liberation war. In 1973, Bangabandhu came to Sirajganj to meet them. “Just 22 out of 35 identified war heroines are still alive. They all are living in poverty and social negligence. They  do not get social recognition as a freedom fighter so they are living in pain for decades,” commented Freedom Fighter Amena Begum, who collected the list of war heroines. She urges the government to provide war heroines social recognition as freedom fighters. Talking to the Daily Star, Gazi Sohrab Ali, commander of Sirajganj district unit of Muktijodhha Shangshad also demanded the recognition of war heroines as freedom fighters.

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