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Jatiyo Muktijoddha Council has decided to revoke the gallantry title ‘Bir Uttam’ awarded by the state to Ziaur Rahman when the country is set to celebrate golden jubilee of the Liberation War this year. Bir Uttam is the second highest award in Bangladesh for individual gallantry.

The national platform of the Freedom Fighters has also proposed to revoke the gallantry titles awarded to self-acknowledged killers of Bangabandhu -- Shariful Haque Dalim, Nur Chowdhury, Rashed Chowdhury and Mosleh Uddin.

In its 72nd meeting on Tuesday, Jamuka has decided that the above mentioned five people and their families won’t get any of the state facilities given to the Freedom Fighters for their contributions in the Liberation War.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) founder Ziaur Rahman was initially the commander of sector 1 from 10 April 1971 to 15 May 1971. Later, he was made the commander of sector 11 from 26 June 1971 10 October 1971. He also led the Z Force, also known as Tura Brigade, the first military brigade of Bangladesh Forces.

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Though the highest leaderships of ruling Bangladesh Awami League have been alleging the involvement of Ziaur Rahman with the killing Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, he was not made accused in the suit filed for the gruesome killing.

Liberation war affairs ministry sources said the revoking of gallantry titles awarded to Bangabandhu’s four self-acknowledged killers, who have been sentenced to death, was proposed in the Jamuka meeting. Jamuka member Shajahan Khan, MP, said why the gallantry award of Ziaur Rahman will not be revoked if the awards of four self-acknowledged killers of Bangabandhu is revoked? The chair of Jamuka meeting, liberation affairs minister and other members reached in a consensus over the matter.

Currently, the decision has been taken in principle regarding Ziaur Rahman, Khondaker Mostaq and Mahbubul Alam Chashi. Many people’s Nobel prize, doctorate degrees are revoked globally. Maybe, their Freedom Fighter status cannot be revoked, but their gallantry awards will be revoked, they will get the punishment for their crimes
AKM Mozammel Haque, Liberation War Affairs Minister

According to the liberation war affairs ministry website, Shariful Haque is a Bir Uttam, Nur Chowdhury a Bir Bikram, Rashed Chowdhury and Mosleh Uddin are Bir Pratik.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, liberation war affairs minister AKM Mozammel Haque on Tuesday said Ziaur Rahman violated the Constitution, the main principles of the Constitution. Despite being a Freedom Fighter he formed cabinet with people who cherished anti-liberation sentiments. He positioned the self-acknowledged killers of Bangabandhu at important posts and helped them leave the country.

In response to a question on why suddenly this decision was taken, the minister said, “The rule is nothing could be done against the people who passed away. That’s why no decision was taken against Ziaur Rahman, Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad and Mahbubul Alam Chashi. Jamuka meeting has also discussed about people like them at length. Awards and facilities of all of them will be revoked. Currently, the decision has been taken in principle regarding Ziaur Rahman, Khondaker Mostaq and Mahbubul Alam Chashi. Many people’s Nobel prize, doctorate degrees are revoked globally. Maybe, their Freedom Fighter status cannot be revoked, but their gallantry awards will be revoked, they will get the punishment for their crimes.”

Two of the Jamuka members, who took part in the meeting on Tuesday, told Prothom Alo that Jamuka member Shahiduzzaman MP proposed to take the opinion of the law ministry before making the decision. But, most of the Freedom Fighters along with injured Freedom Fighter Rashidul Alam said it would take a long time if it is sent to the law ministry. If necessary, the liberation war ministry will talk to the law ministry later and would settle legal complications, if there is any.

The Jamuka meeting also discussed how the names of people who worked against the Liberation War and the people identified as the plotters of Bangabandhu murder are still in the ‘Lal Mukti Barta,’ the book regarded as the most authentic list of Freedom Fighters. Later, it was decided that a committee, led by Shajahan Khan will work to exclude the names of those persons. The committee would make a list of such controversial people and present that in the next meeting. The committee would also work on whether the Swadhinata Padak (Independence Award) of Ziaur Rahman could be revoked.

Speaking to Prothom Alo on Tuesday, BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said such a decision is a supreme contempt for the Liberation War and the Freedom Fighters. He also termed the decision as political vengeance.

“First thing is, we don’t know anything about this decision of the government. It would be most unfortunate if the government takes any such decision. This would be a complete contempt for the Liberation War and the Freedom Fighters because, even the enemies of Ziaur Rahman acknowledges his contributions in the Liberation War. In that context, such a decision would be supremely defamatory and contempt for the Liberation War and the Freedom Fighters.”

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“This cannot be denied that Ziaur Rahman called for Liberation War in the name of Bangabandhu. He started the armed fight first and he rebelled from Kalurghat. Can anyone deny that he was a sector commander and commander of Z Force?” the BNP leader said.

Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain further said it was the Awami League that formed the government after the Liberation War and conferred Ziaur Rahman the gallantry title Bir Uttam, highest for the living Freedom Fighters.

"It would be political vengeance if the government takes any other decision. People won’t accept this decision," he said further.

Regarding the Jamuka decision, Sector Commanders’ Forum secretary general Freedom Fighter Harun Habib said in principle he supports the decision of revoking the gallantry title of Ziaur Rahman, Khondoker Moshtaq and other controversial personalities. It is true that they did fight in the Liberation War but it was them who damaged most the achievements of the Liberation War. They rehabilitated the anti-liberation war people. That’s why they are not eligible to get state gallantry awards, he added.

* The report has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza

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