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Tuesday, December 8, 2009
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No last post for convicts

Disgraced war heroes to be denied honour

Freedom fighters, who have been sentenced to death or for life, will not be given guard of honour after death, said State Minister for Liberation War Affairs ABM Tajul Islam.

The government yesterday made amendments to the policy of post-death guard of honour to freedom fighters. The amendments were made at an inter-ministerial meeting held at the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs.

Following the amendment, five convicts in the Bangabandhu assassination case would not be given guard of honour after their death or execution even though they were freedom fighters, sources in the ministry said.

They are Lt Col (retd) Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan and Lt Col (sacked) Syed Farooq Rahman, who are behind bars, and Lt Col (retd) Noor Chowdhury, Maj (retd) Shariful Haque Dalim and Lt Col (retd) Rashed Choudhury, who are now absconding.

Another freedom fighter, Col (retd) Abdul Aziz Pasha died earlier during his absconding period.

Additional Superintendent of Police Abdul Kahar Akand of Criminal Investigation Department, who was the investigation officer of Bangabandhu killing case, told The Daily Star, "Among the Bangabandhu killers detained in Bangladesh jail, Sultan Shahriar Rashid was a freedom fighter, not Farooq Rahman even though he claims to be one."

According to sources close to the inter-ministerial meeting, the convict freedom fighters, even if they were granted presidential clemency, would not be given the guard of honour after their death.

The secretary of liberation war affairs ministry chaired the meeting where representatives from the Prime Minister's Office, cabinet secretariat, home ministry, Armed Forces Division (AFD), Bangladesh Police and others concerned were present.

About another change in policy, State Minister Capt (retd) ABM Tajul Islam said the department concerned of the AFD would give guard of honour to all its freedom fighter members after their death, regardless of them dying while on service or after retirement.

Earlier, only the freedom-fighter AFD members who were still in service were given the guard of honour after their death by its departments concerned and the retired ones by the police.

The state minister for liberation war also said, "Now we have a list of about 1,86,000 freedom fighters and the number may increase up to 2.5 lakh as earlier freedom fighters were not willing to be enlisted for various reasons."

Sources related to the inter-ministerial meeting said the government has also specified the criteria for identifying and certifying freedom fighters, as inconsistencies remained in the lists prepared by different governments.

According to sources, freedom fighters whose names are found in at least two lists out of four, would be given the Guard of Honour after their death.

The lists are: voter list, gadgets and the freedom fighters' lists prepared during Awami League and BNP-Jamaat-led governments.

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What about the freedom fighters who became thieves and criminals but were not convicted due to connection and political favours? Does Tajul Islam need names of some so called freedom fighter of these catagory?

: S. Ahmad
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