On its controversial list of Razakars, the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs has included the names of valiant freedom fighters, liberation war organisers and even relatives of Bangabandhu and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's "Naya Chacha".
This has created an uproar across the country. The freedom fighters who were included have strongly protested it and demanded the withdrawal of their names from the list.
On Tuesday, the home ministry and the liberation war affairs ministry blamed each other over the issue.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said the people who have been put on the Razakar list had been primarily accused in the Collaborators Act 1972. Freedom fighters denied the minister's claim outright.
However, the liberation war affairs ministry has said it will drop the names of people who had not been involved with anti-liberation forces during the 1971 War of Liberation.
Our district correspondents report:
Abdul Hai Serniabat, the father of Shahid Serniabat, is on the list of war collaborators. Hai's son Shahid was a relative of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and was assassinated on August 15, 1975, with the Mujib family.
Listing Hai as a war collaborator has surprised the people of Barishal. They said Hai played a key role in organising the freedom fighters at Agailjhara upazila in Barishal.
The 60-year-old man played an active role in training, sheltering and providing food to the guerrillas. Hai was also tasked with official activities at guerrilla camps.
Agailjhara upazila Chairman Abdur Roich Serniabat said Hai was a government employee. He left his job after March 7, 1971.
Abdur Roich said, "After the declaration of independence, Hai gathered local youths and trained them in guerrilla warfare. Thus he became the target of local collaborators. The Pakistani Army attacked his house in April and torched it."
"We are upset," said the local chairman, adding, "The list needs to be revised immediately and the family deserves an apology for the disrespect."
The listing of Hai as a collaborator has shocked his relatives as well. Hai's son Aman Serniabat, also a freedom fighter, said, "My father was side-lined by his superiors at his workplace as he used to criticise Ayub Khan. He donated his gun to freedom fighters and could not even live at home during the war."
"Thanks to god, he died in 1986. He would die of shame on hearing the news had he been alive," Aman sounded upset. He said he does not have any words to express his anger.
Terming the inclusion in the list as a conspiracy, he demanded punishment for the conspirators.
Apart from his son, Abdul Hai also lost his younger brother Abdur Rab Serniabat in the August 15 assassination.
Barishal's gallant freedom fighter Advocate Tapan Kumar Chakrabarti, his mother and martyred wife are also on the list of Razakars.
This has raised eyebrows. Members of the Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal burnt the list in protest on Tuesday in Barishal town. They also demanded a revision of the list.
Earlier that day, Tapan Kumar Chakrabarti and her daughter Dr Manisha Chakrabarti appeared at a press conference.
Tapan said, "It is regretful. The people who did this certainly have a plot. Apart from correcting the list, the government should bring those plotters to book."
The gazetted freedom fighters also talked to the press on Tuesday night. He discarded the home minister's remark that those who had been accused in the Collaborators Act have been named on the Razakar list.
Tapan said neither he nor his mother were accused under the Collaborators Act.
He said, "What the home minister is saying is false and ludicrous. I protest his remark."
His daughter Manisha, also a left-leaning leader, said, "Now they are playing the blame game. The list must be cancelled no matter which ministry prepared it. The syndicate involved in the misdeed must be punished."
She also called for a revised list to retain the glory of her family.
Even after his death, Md Mujibul Haque was known as "Noya Bhai" to the local people. He was a close companion of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He was the secretary of Barguna's Patharghata upazila Awami League for 40 long years.
Mujibul was also the secretary of Mukti Sangram Parishad. His name has been included in the recently published collaborators' list.
At a press briefing on Tuesday morning, upazila Freedom Fighters Command Council condemned the inclusion of his name. Upazila Awami League and Muktijoddha Command Council marched across the city demanding exclusion of Mujibul's name from the list.
Family sources and fellow freedom fighters said that he was a classmate of Bangabandhu at Islamia College in Kolkata and a roommate at Bekar Hostel. "Noya Bhai" was the secretary of Patharghata Mukti Sangram Parishad until 1973. He was also a respectable person to Sheikh Hasina and she called him "Noya Chacha."
The freedom fighters took shelter and training at his village home in 1971.
In this regard, his wife Nurzahan Begum, 87, said, "My husband died on December 31, 2007. He was involved in politics with Bangabandhu. He also directed the Sangram Parishad. During the war, he took care of everyone, including those who took shelter at our house. How can this person be a Razakar! Justice must be ensured. Sheikh Hasina will look after the matter.
"While walking, Bangabandhu kept his hands on his shoulders. Sheikh Hasina also respected him. She used to touch his feet. If he sat far away, she told him to sit closer. How can this person be a Razakar! I wish I could know!"
Anowar Hossain Monowar, secretary of Barguna Press Club and Sector Commanders' Forum 71, said, "Mujibul Haque Noya Bhai became a prey to conspiracy after his death. He has never been a Razakar. He was an organiser of pro-liberation war group. His name must be excluded from the list of Razakars. Otherwise, we will go for a movement."
Md Abdul Halim alias Comrade Halim, who participated in the liberation war, said, "Noya Bhai provided shelter to freedom fighters at his house. He also arranged training for them."
Late Advocate Abdus Salam was an organiser of both the 1971 War of Liberation and the Awami League. After independence, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman told him to take over the finance ministry.
In the 9-month-long bloodied war, Abdus Salam lost his two sons, Selim and Wasim, younger brother Hasanuzzaman Khoka, brother-in-law Saidur Rahman Mina and son-in-law of his sister MNA Nazmul Haque.
But the list of Razakars contains his name. The family of martyrs and local freedom fighters protested it.
"This list is motivated and driven by conspiracy. It is saddening to learn that the name of a liberation war organiser has been included in the list of Razakars. We demand trial of those who have purposefully done it," said
Ariful Haque Kumar, Abdus Salam's son-in-law and a poet.
Meanwhile, different local socio-cultural organisations formed a human chain protesting the inclusion of freedom fighters' names in the list of Razakars.
Alhajj Kasim Uddin Ahmed has been receiving state honorarium for decades as a freedom fighter, said Sharif Uddin, the upazila social services officer of Adamdighi in Bogura.
He claimed that several other freedom fighters of Bogura, who have been included in the controversial list, also get state honorarium like Kasim Uddin does.
"Kasim Uddin has been involved with the Awami League for around 60 years," said Sirajul Islam Khan, Adamdighi upazila Awami League's general secretary and the upazila chairman.
Kasim Uddin got the position of governor in Joypurhat during the tenure of Bangabandhu. He was elected a Provincial Assembly member in the 1970 elections from the Awami League in the undivided Pakistan.
He had been the upazila Awami League president for 44 years. Besides, Kasim Uddin had served as the Bogura Awami League's president for some days.
Adamdighi upazila Freedom Fighters Command Council's former secretary Md Jayedul Islam said, Kasim Uddin had been a caretaker of the Kamarpara freedom fighters camp in India.
Meanwhile, another freedom fighter named Monsur Ali fought in the liberation war in Adamdighi's Nasaratpur area. Later, he had been made the commander of Adamdighi upazila freedom fighters. Earlier, he had served as a deputy commander.
Monsur had been the general secretary of the Adamdighi thana unit Chhatra League from 1968 to 1974.
Monsur Ali stated that he had been the Adamdighi thana general secretary for Sangram Parishad during the 1969 non-cooperation movement.
"Yet my name has been included on the controversial Razakars' list," he said.
ICT chief prosecutor Golam Arif wants quick correction
Golam Arif Tipu, the chief prosecutor of the International Crimes Tribunal, has expressed annoyance and surprise over the inclusion of his name on the list of Razakars. The senior jurist said the list is not acceptable at all, and if it is not corrected, legal action will be taken against the people responsible.
Regarding the speech of the home minister, he said, "There should not be any case against me in the Collaborators Act because I am a freedom fighter according to the 1972-gazette. I have the certificate too."
"I not only took part in the liberation war, I tried to actively participate in the language movement in 1952, during the election in 1954 and other historical movements in 1962, 1966, 1969 and 1970," he said.
"In 1972, my name was included on the original list of freedom fighters. After March 26, 1971, I organised my friends and fellow fighters. Later, we took part in guerrilla battles. A few months before victory, we killed hundreds of Pakistani soldiers in different regions in Rajshahi."
The chief prosecutor said, "In 2013, the government published a gazette acknowledging the members of NAP Communist Party Student Union and special guerrilla freedom fighters. My name is listed at no. 33 on the list. I am a freedom fighter who receives an allowance and facilities."
"There has been negligence on the part of the liberation ministry. Including my name in the collaborators list is part of a big conspiracy. I am not ready to face it at this eleventh hour of my life."