Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today reiterated her determination to do everything necessary for the welfare of the freedom fighters and their successors calling the War of Liberation as the “greatest episode” in Bangladesh’s history,BSS reports.
“The country was liberated due to great sacrifice of the freedom fighters and they have invaluable contribution to establishing Bangladesh as a dignified nation in the world . . . so I would continue to do whatever necessary for the welfare of the freedom fighters and their successors,” she told a reception on the occasion of the Armed Forces Day 2016.
The prime minister accorded the reception to the successors of Birshreshthos, and the highest gallantry award-recipient freedom fighters, at the Armed Forces Division at Dhaka Cantonment this morning. Principal Staff Officer of the Armed Forces Division (AFD) Lt Gen Md Mahfuzur Rahman delivered the welcome address at the function.
Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque, PM’s Security Advisor Major General (retd) Tarique Ahmed Siddiq, Chief of Army Staff General Abu Belal Muhammad Shafiul Haque, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Nizamuddin Ahmad and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Abu Esrar and high civil and military officials were present.
At the reception, Sheikh Hasina distributed identity cards, the first of its kind, among the armed forces gallantry award-recipient freedom fighters who are alive. She also presented honorarium cheques, and gifts including “shwal” and mobile tabs to the successors of seven Birshreshthos as well as other gallantry award-recipients.
The prime minister also handed over “Bahini Padak” (forces medals) and “Osamanya Seba Padak” (outstanding service medals) among five armed forces officers in recognition to their heroic role in war and peacetime.
Sheikh Hasina, also the daughter of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, said she knows the pain for losing the near and dear ones. “I’m continuing work for the welfare of the country and people containing this pain in my heart,” she said.
She added: “That’s why we always consider those who lost their dear and near ones in the Liberation War and who were wounded and who made contribution to the war of independence as respected persons . . . it’s our responsibility for continuing work for their welfare.”
Highlighting various steps for the welfare of the freedom fighters and their successors, the premier said her government has been working untiringly to reestablish the freedom fighters with proper dignity and give highest recognition to their contribution.
Sheikh Hasina said her government is also pledge-bound to preserve the glorious history and tradition of the Liberation War. “It’s our national responsibility to remember invaluable contribution of the valiant Freedom Fighters to achieving independence,” she said.
The prime minister said her government has implemented many welfare programmes for valiant freedom fighters and their successors and many proposals and projects are under its active consideration.
She said the monthly allowance for Birshreshthos has been increased to Tk 30,000, for Biruttam to Tk 25,000, for Birbikram to Tk 20,000 and Birpratik to Tk 15,000. For war-wounded FFs and families of the martyred FFs, she said, the monthly state honorarium has been enhanced by minimum Tk 18,000 and maximum by Tk 30,000.
Sheikh Hasina said monthly allowance for the general Freedom Fighters has been raised to Taka 10,000 from only Taka 900, while the number of beneficiaries has been raised to two lakh from one lakh.
Tk 2487.15 crore have been allocated against allowance, medical treatment and ration goods in the current fiscal year for family members of martyred and war-wounded FFs, she said.
The PM said a programme for developing a database would be undertaken for publishing a complete list of the FFs in modern system. “A flawless list of the Freedom Fighters would be presented to the nation by completing the database programme,” she said.
The prime minister said the Liberation War Affairs Ministry has taken a Taka 228 crore project for rehabilitation of the freedom fighters. Under the crucial scheme, there is an arrangement for constructing 2971 houses, she said.
The premier said under “The District Muktijoddha Complex Construction Project”, 43 District Muktijoddha Complex Buildings have been completed and handed over.
She said from July 2013, the government has undertaken a scheme involving Tk 1078 crore to construct Muktijoddha Complex Buildings in 422 upazilas. Under the project, she said, the construction work of 161 Muktijoddha Complex Buildings has already been finished.
Sheikh Hasina said due to implementation of these projects, the nation could know the true history of the Liberation War and none could dare to distort the history. At the outset her speech, the prime minister extended her heartiest congratulations to the members of Bangladesh Armed Forces on the occasion of the Armed Forces Day.
On this historic day, she said, the brave members of the armed forces and the common people of the country launched together a coordinated assault against the Pakistani occupation forces which sped up the victory in the Liberation War. The prime minister said the great task of safeguarding the country’s independence has been reposed on the members of the armed forces.
“Our armed forces members have been extending their support to develop the country, construct infrastructure, maintain law and order and face natural disasters … they are also playing a special role in combating militancy and terrorism,” she said. She added: “That’s why our government is pledge-bound for modernization and physical and infrastructural uplift as well as implementation of all welfare-oriented programmes.”
Sheikh Hasina said after assuming office, her government has been working tirelessly to ensure socioeconomic development of the country being imbued with the spirit of the War of Liberation.
“We’ve lifted the country to international standard in all fields and now Bangladesh is getting respect across the globe … Bangladesh is now a ‘role model’ of development. This honour and dignity were very much needed for us,” she added.
Mentioning the undertaking of various fast track projects like deep seaport, nuclear power plant, coal-based power plant, metro rail, sub-regional rail project, LNG terminal, Karnaphuli tunnel, Sheikh Hasina hoped that the work on constructing the much-awaited Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project would be completed by 2018.
She said that her government took the construction of the Padma Bridge as a challenge as the World Bank brought allegation of corruption conspiracy in the project.
Overcoming all the hurdles, she said, the work on the Padma Bridge is going on in full swing with country’s own funding and so far some 32 percent of its work has been completed. “Besides, work on the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant has been progressing fast and I believe that once these projects are implemented, our economy will be further strengthened,”
Sheikh Hasina, who is also in-charge of the Ministry of Defence, said she is delighted to distribute identity cards among the armed forces gallantry award-winning freedom fighters.
Through the identity cards, she said, they could enjoy facilities of travelling in rails, BRTC buses and Bangladesh Inland Transport Corporation ferries without fare.
The prime minister said they are also entitled to travel on international route of Bangladesh Biman once a year and travel in the same airlines for performing Hajj/Umrah once in lifetime. They could also use VIP lounges of the airports as well as VIP rooms and cabins of ferries and enjoy medicare facilities through the identity cards.