Honor them before death
Ripan Kumar Biswas
His choler and frustrations once again reflect the privations and sufferings that freedom fighters endured in the past and still endure now.
The story is nothing new. It’s a sequel of sufferings of many freedom fighters of Bangladesh, who once made such a valuable contribution to the birth of nation. Mozzafor Hossain, a valiant freedom fighter in the 1971 War of Liberation of Bangladesh, who once had risked his life and fought gallantly in the battle field for the nation three and half decades ago, is now ailing from mouth cancer. As he needs regular Chemotherapy that costs Tk. 4000 in a week and as it is not possible for him to afford the treatment cost, he has appealed to government, Bangladesh Freedom Fighters Welfare Trust, and generous people, but no significant response he received so far from any such authority.
“I don’t want any state honors after my death,” Mozzafor said regretfully lying in a bed at Rangpur Medical College Hospital, Rangpur, Bangladesh. Engr. AJSM Khaled, another valiant freedom fighter, who is brilliant student from childhood and has authored important books on quality and productivity that are regarded as essential guidelines for the local apparel sector, is now suffering from a severe form of skin cancer Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma. He, too, can’t afford the cost of treatment.
There are a lot of examples of sufferings of these freedom fighters are exist around the country. But people may able to know a very of them. Some critics may question that these cases are far better while country has freedom fighters as rickshaw-pullers, street slumbers, or even beggars.
The history of Bangladesh has been one of extremes, of turmoil and peace, prosperity and destitution. It has thrived under the glow of cultural splendor and suffered under the ravages of war. Bangladesh became one of the youngest nation states following a pair of twentieth century secessions from India (1947) and Pakistan (1971). Bangladesh became independent from Pakistan in 1971 after nine months war of Liberation. About three million people and freedom fighters sacrificed their lives during the war.
Although freedom fighter is a term for those, who engaged in an armed struggle, the main cause of which is to achieve, in their or their supporters’ view, freedom for themselves or obtain freedom for others, but the freedom fighters of Bangladesh fought for the freedom of thought and expression, democracy, human rights, and the freedom to follow the faith of one’s own choice. The freedom fighters of Bangladesh bore the violence and torture lashed at them; they suffered in jail or camp and brutally killed. Their sacrifices and tortures have resulted in the freedom that people enjoy today.
Today people of Bangladesh feel satisfied and contended as they can freely move around in the country without questioning or imposing any kinds of restrictions on them. But this satisfaction is due to the efforts taken by the freedom fighters to free the country from the authoritarian Pakistani rule. Freedom fighters gallantly fought with the enemies to free the country. The indomitable courage and commitment of freedom fighters helped to imbue Bangladesh as an independent nation.
People in Bangladesh feel extremely proud of the hard work and effort taken by the freedom fighters to achieve the milestone. It is they who have led the people of Bangladesh to independence. Without them there would have been no independent Bangladesh; only East Pakistan under the domineering thumbs of the Pakistan.
While most of the countries in the world respect their freedom fighters and senior citizens and arrange relatively comfort life for their great contribution towards the country, very often in Bangladesh, it is regular to see the sufferings, humiliation, and deprivation of freedom fighters. Government of those countries has special priorities for those great heroes.
It’s a supreme irony that the freedom fighters and their family are very often found to suffer for foods, shelter, and other minimum level of livings. They even live in fear while the war criminals are enjoying lavish life and in addition, awarded, posted, and sponsored with high designation both nationally and internationally.
It’s a national disgrace that the state always fails to look after the war heroes. But the people have a great expectation from the present ruling coalition government led by Awami League (AL), whose aims and objectives contain to build a secular, democratic society and state-system imbued with the spirit of Liberation War. People applauded the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s assurance and hopeful words that her government will take necessary steps to ensure the living standard of the countries most respected citizens.
Taking part in the general discussion on the 2009-2010 budgets in the national parliament, she recently told that her government would take proper steps so that the freedom fighters get treatment facilities free of cost. In addition, freedom fighters aged over 60 years will get opportunity to travel in launches, buses and trains free of cost. In an another speech given at Osmani Memorial auditorium, Dhaka on June 20, 2009, she informed that the rate of allowances of insolvent freedom fighters has been increased up to Taka 1,500 from Taka 900. Though this token money hardly meets the financial needs and government alone can not shoulder responsibilities of freedom fighters due to resource constraints, it is the duty of everyone to come forward and give a hand to the country’s bravest citizens.
Another important thing is the country’s authentic freedom fighter lists, where many people believe that many anti-liberation persons have been included on political consideration. According to a parliamentary panel on May 28, 2009, the number of freedom fighters increased to 2.10 lakh during the tenure of the immediate past BNP-Jamaat led four-party alliance government.
God’s word declares that all life is precious. Not just those whom we know the special ones. Present government of Bangladesh may consider it legitimate to approve a law to ensure lifelong and foolproof security of the family members of the father of the nation. While the contributions and efforts of the family members of the father of the nation towards independence of Bangladesh are unquestionable, each and everyone who took part in the liberation war, is subjected to get dignity, security, and a respectable status of living while they are alive.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009, New York
Ripan Kumar Biswas is a freelance writer based in New York. He can be reached at [email protected]