Indeed, it is a welcome news that the government has taken initiative to list intellectuals who were martyred during the 1971 Bangladesh War.
A gazette to that effect was issued on 20 November this year with the names of eminent people in the committee formed to do the job.
The chair is the Mr. Tapan Kanti Ghosh, Secretary of the Ministry of Liberation War and includes Professor Muntasir Mamun, Mr. Shahriar Kabir and Professor Gazi Salauddin Ahmed, the son of a martyred valiant Freedom Fighter.
The move is long overdue, but that it is eventually happening has been welcomed by the children of valiant Freedom Fighters and also many others who were killed during the war, but not listed as martyrs.
The first thing the committee should seek information from across Bangladesh from the families of martyrs to ensure that none is left out. There is no benefit from the recognition, but what matters is the recognition by the government.
Second, how are they evaluating to determine who will be considered as a martyred intellectual.
Thirdly, will they seek to find out the truth about which intellectual, already listed or not, and killed during the war had any controversies over their role in 1971. There have been some controversial reports of some such intellectuals killed in 1971 in the social media.
Fourth, those who have already been recognised by the state by publishing postal stamps and in books of the state-owned Bangla Academy — “Smrity Ekattor” by late Mr. Rashid Haider — are also under their scrutiny or not.
And the last is that It is a very sensitive matter, with people who have lost their dear ones having many questions, including what is the need for such a list and will it include those in the remotest areas of Bangladesh.
Almost a month after the committee was announced, we have not heard anything from it or any of its member. I believe they must meet the press to enlighten all concerned.
Some are also sceptical because we have seen the controversy and eventual dumping of the list of Freedom Fighters.
Thus the committee must be extremely cautious in making the list.
Many Freedom Fighters have remained unrecognised even now or some of those listed are living a life of poverty and pain. Many martyrs’ families too have the same fate.
The saddest part is some get all the attention and living a luxury life, besides being present everywhere like a merry-g-round in different events, including the Martyrs’ Intellectual Day. Why can’t those responsible for organising such events invite others who have also their stories of loss and pain to share.
Talking of benefits to a “Shaheed Family” some have got more than they are entitled, if any such provision, while many have got nothing for a decent living.
These have given rise to many questions and thus the sceptical views by many and have great expectations from the ruling Awami League as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has a very soft side for such people.
Let there be a list which will do justice to all, be transparent and above any controversy.
Salute to all the martyrs’ of the Bangladesh war on this Martyred Intellectuals’ Day.