Jamuka “couldn’t muster the courage” to draw up list of Razakars

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The Jatio Muktijoddha Council (Jamuka), national freedom fighters council, has been empowered to draw up the list of Razakars, a collaborating force of the occupying Pakistani army during Bangladesh’s liberation war in 1971, by amending a law. However, even after more than one and a half years, the work of preparing that list is still not visible. The council “could not muster the courage” to go ahead with the listing. Rather, it is waiting for a nod from the Ministry of Liberation War.

Liberation war affairs minister AKM Mozammel Haque said several times that the list of Razakars will be announced in March this year. But there is doubt whether it is possible or not.

Meanwhile, the liberation war researchers think that a committee should be made with researchers to prepare the list of Razakars.

Amendments to the Jamuka Act were passed in parliament in August 2022, empowering Jamuka to prepare the list of Razakar.

Prothom Alor spoke with some officials of Jamuka recently in this regard. They claim that the names of important persons and the names of the relatives of important persons have come up in the very beginning of preparing the list of Razakars. The names of people, who are in very important positions, are also cropping up. Razakars’ relatives are in the administration as well as in the ruling party. As a result, the Jamuka officials said, they were not getting the courage to proceed with this list.

Suppose we find someone who is a notorious rajakar, and he is the sister-in-law of someone like us, so he is out... Again I dislike you, so I may put your name on the list. It is not possible to draw up a list this way
Liberation war affairs minister AKM Mozammel Haque

According to the law, the chairman of Jamuka is ex officio the Minister of Liberation War. Incumbent liberation war affairs minister AKM Mozammel Haque also agreed with the remarks of the Jamuka officials.

He told the media, “Suppose we find someone who is a notorious rajakar, and he is the sister-in-law of someone like us, so he is out... Again I dislike you, so I may put your name on the list. It is not possible to draw up a list this way. So this is not an easy tak.”

The minister wanted to announce the list of Razakars in March this year. When asked about this, he told Prothom Alo on Monday that former minister Shahjahan Khan, a member of Jamuka, was given the responsibility. Only he can say better.

Asked about the progress in preparing the list of Razakars, Jamuka member Shajahan Khan told Prothom Alo on Monday, “I have got a list of 150 people. The minister can publish it if he wants. But I think that if the list is published in phases, there will be various criticisms, so I want to publish the list once I receive it from all over the country.”

In December 2019, the government released an initial list of 10,789 anti-independence people including Razakar, Al Badr, Al Shams Bahini. However, due to various mistakes and inconsistencies in it, the government was eventually forced to withdraw the list.

The names of some freedom fighters and martyrs in the liberation war were also included in that list. At the same time, the names of many notorious Razakars were not in the list.

Later, the parliamentary standing committee on liberation war affairs ministry took the initiative to do the work themselves. For this, on 9 August, 2020, the parliamentary standing committee formed a parliamentary subcommittee. The committee led by Shajahan Khan could not meet regularly. Later, the parliamentary committee in a meeting in April 2022, cancelled the previous subcommittee and formed a new subcommittee with Shajahan Khan as the convener.

People involved in the research on the liberation war say that various obstacles will be created while making lists of the Razakars after so many years of the country’s independence.

However, there are questions about the capacity of the parliamentary subcommittee to complete the task. Especially in such work, professional and skilled manpower is needed for data collection and verification, which Jamuka lacks.

There are also questions about whether there is any set up to provide secretarial support to the parliamentary subcommittee, and if so, whether it is sufficient or not. In this situation, doubts remain as to how efficiently and accurately the work of drawing up the list could be done.

On the other hand, researchers working on the liberation war have also questioned why they are waiting for the parliamentary subcommittee’s list of Razakars despite having the legal authority to do so. They say that it is not clear how much the Ministry of Liberation War is helping the parliamentary subcommittee in this work.

Shahriar Kabir, president of Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, a pressure group founded to demand the trial of war criminals from Bangladesh Liberation War, has said on this issue several times that no committee based on bureaucrats or politicians can make such a list. A committee should be made with researchers to prepare such a list.

* The report, originally published in hte print and online editions of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza