The controversial Razakar list was suspended yesterday after ministers continued their incoherent excuses on how names of freedom fighters crept up on the recently released list of Razakars (collaborators), much of which raises more questions rather than makes any sense.
Many of the freedom fighters have even been collecting freedom fighters' allowances, raising the fundamental question of if they were Razakars as the list says how could the state pay them the money?
And the home minister's claim that his ministry had merely sent to the liberation war ministry a list of those against whom cases were filed under the Collaborators Order and that it had sent a note that some cases were later dropped and so corrections were needed is also reviled on the street. This is considered as another jumbled-up response to the already jumbled-up situation because if the home minister was correct then cases must have been filed for collaboration against the freedom fighters.
But The Business Standard had talked to a number of such freedom fighters and none of them said they were ever implicated under the Collaborators Order.
Meantime, as the controversy spirals out, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ordered correction of the list.
And Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Huq has announced the names of freedom fighters will be dropped after review. But before that he had claimed that his ministry had published a list as it was sent by the home ministry.
The liberation war affairs ministry has at last suspended the list of Razakars in the face of nationwide massive criticism. The revised list will be published after scrutiny on March 26 next year.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has also broken her silence on the issue. In a meeting of the Awami League yesterday, she urged all to look at the matter from a perspective of forgiveness.
The prime minister said the inclusion of freedom fighters' names in the list occurred due to a misunderstanding between the home ministry and the liberation war affairs ministry.
Reiterating his earlier statement, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said, "We did not provide the Liberation War ministry with any list of Razakars, Al-Badrs and Al-Shams."
The home ministry said they did not directly give any list of Razakars to the liberation war affairs ministry. They do not have any such list.
After the ministry sought the list of those against whom there were cases under the Collaborators Act 1972, they sent it in a pen drive.
The home ministry was not informed that the list would be published. Even there is no signature of any official of the home ministry on the pages of the list that has been published.
No official of the ministry was invited to the press conference where the list was announced.
Home ministry officials claimed that the whole responsibility of publishing such a list is on the liberation war affairs ministry.
The document sent from the home ministry on December 2 had a note saying the ministry did not have any record on the total number of Razakars, Al-Badr, Al-Shams and anti-liberation elements.
On the other hand, Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque said, "Firstly, I do not know anything about this. The list was prepared in 1971. We have collected it from the home ministry."
The home minister said the liberation war ministry published the list sent by his ministry without any scrutiny.
"The note given by us has not also been taken into cognisance. However, there are cases under the Collaborators Act against those whose names have been included in the list."
The freedom fighters have rejected the home minister's statement outright.
Prosecutors of the International Crimes Tribunal expressed indignation at the inclusion of International Crimes Tribunal's chief prosecutor and freedom fighter Golam Arif Tipu in the list.
They have called for finding those involved in preparing the controversial list.
On Tuesday night, giving his reaction to the statement of the home minister, Golam Arif Tipu said, "There is no question of filing any case against me under the Collaborators Act. Because I was gazetted as a freedom fighter in 1972. I have a certificate."
On Wednesday, he appealed to three ministries, seeking amendment, withdrawal and cancellation of the list.
Advocate Tapan Chakraborty, who enjoys allowance as a freedom fighter, said, "No case was ever filed against me and my mother Usha Chakraborty under the Collaborators Act. None will be able to show any such document. None ever made any such allegation against me. No investigation agency has so far informed us anything to this effect. What the home minister has been saying is untrue and ridiculous. I protest his statement."
Tapan Kumar Chakraborty's daughter BSD leader Dr Monisha Chakraborty said attempts are being made to pass the blame on each other. Whichever ministry has prepared the list it has to be cancelled. Alongside, the clique involved with it has to be identified and brought to trial. She demanded immediate amendment to the list and upholding of her family's dignity.
Later, the liberation war affairs ministry in a statement said names of people who were not anti-liberation but have been included in the list would be dropped.
The ministry on Sunday – the day before the Victory Day – published the first list of 10,789 Razarkar, Al-Badr, Al-Shams members based on the data and information of the documents the government has.
This is the first time such a list has been prepared.
However, the names of identified Razakars such as convicted war criminal Motiur Rahman Nizami, Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, Kader Mollah, Mir Quasem Ali, Delawar Hossain Sayeedi have not been included in the list.
On January 24, 1972, the Special Tribunal Order under the Collaborators Act was promulgated for the trial of the perpetrators for crimes against humanity.
More than 37,000 people were detained under the Collaborators Act. The trial for their crimes started in 73 special courts in the country.
The government on November 30, 1973, announced a general amnesty for those against whom no specific allegations were found.
After the announcement, 25,719 detainees out of 37,000 were released. The Collaborators Act was abolished by a Martial Law ordinance on December 31, 1975.
Liberation War Affairs Minister Mozammel Haque on Tuesday expressed regret as the names of government gazetted freedom fighters were included in the list of the anti-liberation elements.
He said the published list would be withdrawn if large scale complaints were received.
However, he denied the liberation war affairs ministry's responsibility for the mistake and said they published the list given by the home ministry without any change.
On Tuesday also Mozammel Haque said, "We will not admit that we did it. This list was prepared earlier. There might be some ill motive…I have said that it came this way, we did not do any editing. We have published this the way it came, without altering a full stop, comma, semicolon."