Freedom fighter Mohammad Salahuddin from Ghoser Kandi village in Gazipur's Kapasia Upazila was denied his Freedom Fighter allowance for 11 consecutive months, spanning from January to November 2020 though he received it in previous months.
Despite numerous attempts to seek an explanation from the relevant authorities for this specific period of allowance deprivation, Salahuddin has received no answers to date.
This unfortunate situation has left him and his fellow local freedom fighters deeply concerned, as they consider this treatment a blatant disrespect to a war hero.
Salahuddin, who is currently abroad, insists that his visits to various government departments have yielded no concrete reasons for the delay.
Furthermore, responsible officials have failed to provide a satisfactory explanation.
Md Bazlu, former Muktijodda commander in Kapasia upazila, said, "I talked to the departments concerned about Salauddin not getting the allowance. The matter should have been solved by now."
In response to an application submitted by Salahuddin, the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs previously claimed that the 11-month allowance had been distributed by Kapasia Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO).
This response has raised suspicions of potential misappropriation of the allowance funds by a certain group, as Salahuddin's bank statement clearly shows that he did not receive his allowance for 11 months.
Kapasia UNO AK M Golam Morshed Khan clarified, "We have examined Salahuddin's documents, and based on what we can see, the district committee approved three new allowance applications in 2019, including his. The social service officer-in-charge informed me that perhaps two out of the three allocations/funds were disbursed from the ministry at that time, while one was not.
"We have already discussed the issue with the relevant individuals, and once the verification process is complete, we will be able to determine exactly what happened or where the problem lies."
In response to an application Salahuddin submitted in October 2021, the Ministry of Freedom Fighters stated, "The 11 months' allowance has been distributed by the Gazipur Deputy Commissioner; therefore, the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs is not involved in this matter anymore."
Salahuddin questioned, "The ministry claims the money has been distributed, so who received it?"
He went on to suggest, "I believe there may be a vested quarter strategically misappropriating the allowances meant for freedom fighters like us."
He urged the authorities concerned to swiftly identify those responsible and take appropriate actions to address this situation.
Documents obtained from Salahuddin revealed that his application for allowance, after recommendations from the upazila committee concerned and subsequent approval from the district freedom fighter allowance payment committee, was granted in December 2019.
However, his allowance remained halted from January to November 2020, after which he noticed the issue with his 11-month allowance.
Officials at the Sonali Bank Gazipur branch said that Salahuddin initiated a bank account on 20 September 2020, following the introduction of the Management Information System (MIS).
His bank statement, covering the period from 20 September 2020 to 8 June 2022, indicates a deposit of Tk24,000 on 8 October 2020, designated as an allowance for the months of November and December 2019.
Subsequently, on 9 February 2021, an allowance of Tk12,000 for the month of December 2020 was credited to his account. However, there are no records of any further deposits into his account during the intervening 11 months.
According to those involved, the payment of allowances to freedom fighters has undergone a transition from manual distribution to the utilisation of MIS.
In the past, these allowances were disbursed manually through the Upazila Social Service Office, where the respective Upazila Social Service Officer served as the member secretary of the Upazila-level freedom fighter allowance payment committee, and the UNO held the position of the committee president.
However, with the adoption of the MIS, allowances have been routed through bank accounts. This change has led to the transfer of all pertinent documents and files related to the disbursement process to the relevant authorities at Sonali Bank.
Kapasia Upazila Social Service Officer Md Ruhul Amin said they do not possess any current information regarding the process or status of these allowances, as the responsibility for payment now rests with the bank and they handed over all relevant documents to the bank.
Indrajit Kumer Sarker, the manager of Sonali Bank's Kapasia branch, informed TBS that upon investigating the files pertaining to FF Salahuddin and the associated information in the MIS, they were unable to determine the specific reason why he was not receiving his allowance.
Despite multiple phone calls and a WhatsApp message, Gazipur Deputy Commissioner Abul Fateh Mohammad Safiqul Islam, who is the district committee head overseeing freedom fighter allowance payments, has not responded as of yet.
AHM Mohsin Reza, assistant secretary (budget) at the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs, told TBS that there could be various reasons for the cessation of a freedom fighter's allowance.
The officials concerned with the distribution of freedom fighter allowance could not inform anything about this despite thorough examination of documents.
When the matter was mentioned, the deputy secretary replied that the officials concerned at the field level would know better why they could not inform.
Nonetheless, he insisted that there is no chance of any misappropriation of funds allocated for freedom fighter allowances.