From the Editor-in-Chief: A martyr’s daughter reminds us . . .

Enayetullah Khan
Thursday, December 22nd, 2016
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A few days ago, the child of a martyr moved us to considerable emotion. When Dr. Nuzhat Chowdhury, daughter of the revered martyr Dr. Alim Chowdhury, asked in the presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina why freedom fighters were coming under attack despite their noble contributions to the cause of freedom, she spoke for all of us who have consistently held faith in the fundamental principles upon which Bangladesh is based. Nuzhat Chowdhury was of course referring to the physical assault a veteran freedom fighter, Mukhtar Ahmed Mridha, who is also an Awami League leader, was subjected to by people in his own party at the behest of a rival in Shailakupa, Jhenidah, in October this year. The attack on Mridha was captured on video and went viral. It was an image which left all of us ashamed.

 

Many have been the ways in which freedom fighters have over the past four decades been humiliated in the country they struggled hard to liberate from Pakistani occupation in 1971. Fake freedom fighters, we recall, suddenly appeared in the country once the nation stood liberated forty five years ago. There is also the embarrassment of the thousands of certificates, issued in the name of Colonel MAG Osmany, which fell into the hands of individuals who had nothing to do with the war and in fact were leading safe lives in the nation’s capital and elsewhere in the country during the war. Again, there are all the stories of people who actually sided with Pakistan ending up with FF certificates to conceal their role. In other words, over the months and years following Liberation, people who had absolutely nothing to do with the war were found flaunting their fake freedom fighter certificates. The low degree to which some people were willing to go to make a mockery of the War of Liberation has recently been seen in some senior government officials attempting to have extensions of service because they were ‘freedom fighters’. Their lies were exposed and they were deservedly put to shame.

 

It is our moral responsibility today to identify the hundreds of self-effacing freedom fighters who since the war have been living in penury and suffering in the villages and small towns of Bangladesh. These humble individuals never received any recognition from the State nor did they make use of their contributions in the war to seek favours for themselves. They can be found working in such places as nondescript urban hotels. In the rural regions, the picture is even more stark.

 

Such painful tales should give a jolt to our collective conscience.  Nuzhat Chowdhury has reminded us of what we have failed to do and how we may retrieve the situation.

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