The government has told the High Court (HC) that it is impossible to make a list of real language heroes as per its order.
The cultural affairs ministry said this in a report which was placed to the HC bench of Justice F R M Nazmul Ahasan and Justice Shahed Nuruddin on 17 February.
Earlier in 2010, the HC directed the government to form an expert committee to prepare a list of language activists, to uphold the dignity and sanctity of the central Shaheed Minar, after hearing a writ petition.
After taking the opinion of the expert committee that was formed as per HC order, the cultural affairs ministry, through the law ministry, placed a report to the HC, Deputy Attorney General Barrister ABM Abdullah Al Mahmoud Bashar told The Business Standard (TBS).
More hearings will be held in this regard, he added.
At that time, the HC issued a nine-point directive, including that a museum be set up next to the Central Shaheed Minar and that the Shaheed Minar be properly maintained.
The report of the cultural ministry said the origin of the language movement was in 1948. At that time, five crore people were directly and indirectly involved in the movement, so the real language heroes cannot be defined. It is difficult to make a list of language movement heroes after 64 years. If a new list is prepared, there is a possibility of cases in the future.
After hearing the writ filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB), the court issued a nine-point directive. After filing a case of contempt of court in 2013, then in 2017 due to non-compliance of the HC order, the ministry formed a committee to execute the court order.
An expert committee chaired by the director general of Bangla Academy, and a committee led by deputy commissioner (DC) was formed at each district to prepare a list of language heroes.
Cultural Ministry Secretary Badrul Arefin told TBS, "The expert committee opinion was submitted to the court. In 2012, the government published a gazette listing 68 front-line language movement heroes. However, the committee said it was not possible to make a new list. Now, we are waiting for the next order of the court. "
Writ petitioner lawyer Manzil Murshed told TBS the government had not executed any of the nine-point directive issued by the High Court 11 years ago.
"In the report, what the ministry has said is not logical in any way," he added.
Ghulam Arif Tipu, chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal – and also one of the 68 frontline language heroes in the gazette published in 2012 – told TBS the High Court's directives were valid. Not just 68 people are language heroes, hundreds of people led the language movement from the front. Many of them are alive now.
He said, "The country will benefit so much, the history of the country will be enriched by giving due respect and dignity to the language heroes after making a list. I hope the High Court will take further steps in this regard, which the government will be forced to execute."
Manzil Murshed told TBS that the other points of the directive include establishing a museum with a library next to the Shaheed Minar, keeping a database of language movement history in the museum and constructing a Shaheed Minar in all educational institutions – including universities.
In its order, the court also asked the government to ensure that all language movement heroes get government facilities and are invited to all state programmes. The government was also asked to honour the language heroes, both dead and alive, with posthumous and other awards for their contributions to the movement and the government would provide financial support to the language heroes if they applied for such assistance.
Further, the court asked the government to provide round-the-clock vigil in the designated area of the Central Shaheed Minar and to take necessary measures to stop gatherings, processions, fasts-unto death, and strikes at the main altar of the Shaheed Minar.