5 valiant freedom fighters belonging to the ethnic Garo community of Madhupur Upazila, under Tangail district, are yet to get state recognition. As a result, they are not enlisted as freedom fighters.
Like others, these 5 ethnic Garos or Mandis had joined the Liberation War and fought bravely. Now, burdened with age, they are fighting against poverty. They work as day laborers and live in sub-human conditions, though they deserve state recognition.
The ethnic Garo freedom fighters are identified as Nogendra Diba (74), Soylen Marak (69), Falgin Sangma (87), Ranjit Sangma (64) and Sajib Sangma (64). They had got their certificates signed by General MAG Osmani. But their names have not been recorded in the list of freedom fighters.
As a result, they are not getting the freedom fighters’ allowances. Talking on the eve of Independence Day, the five brave soldiers narrated their tales of war with the occupation forces and their present war against poverty to The Independent correspondent.
Nogendra Diba, a resident of village Thanairbaid, is the son of Raton Chambugong. He joined the Liberation War when he was a student. He went to India and got military training at the Rangnabag training center, which had been set up in the Indian state of Meghalaya.
He fought bravely under Commander Shamshul Hoque in Madhupur Garh, Jagirachala, under Madhupur and Bashchora, and some other places of Jamalpur district in the 11th Sector.
He got married in 1975. He has 6 daughters and a son. He owns only a small plot of land and is battling poverty in independent Bangladesh with nine members of his family.
His name does not figure on the list prepared by the ministry of Freedom Fighters Affairs. As a result, he is denied the freedom fighters’ allowance and seeks government help for recognition as a freedom fighter.
Soylen Marak lives near the rubber plantation of Madhupur. He has no land of his own. He, too, had taken training in India and fought valiantly in the 11th Sector. He has six sons and a daughter. He sustains his family by working as a laborer. He leads a very simple life and is satisfied with the minimum of things. He seeks recognition and allowances in his elderly age.
Falgin Sangma is a resident of Dhorati. He left his wife, a son and a daughter to join the Liberation War. He got military training at the Rangnabag training center in Meghalaya, India.
He had undergone training for 18 days and started operations against the Pakistani army in the 11th Sector. He took part in several operations with Kader Siddiki Bir Uttam.
This brave fighter is also fighting against poverty now. He was given a certificate stating his role in the war. But his name is not there on the ministry’s list of freedom fighters. He seeks state recognition and freedom fighter’s allowance.
Ranjit Sangma is a resident of Thanarbaid. He was born in Sherpur district. He joined the Liberation War at the age of 18. He, too, got training in India. He fought bravely in the 11th Sector, blowing up several bridges with dynamites at Kamalpur, Donia, and Katapul.
He got married in Madhupur and received a small plot from his father-in-law. Now, he is struggling to survive with six members of his family. He got a fighter’s certificate but is not listed with the ministry. As a result, he is deprived of the freedom fighters’ allowances. He seeks recognition and allowance for his survival.
Sajib Sangma is another Mandi freedom fighter. He is a resident of Thanarbaid. He got military training at Rangnabag in Meghalaya, India. He fought bravely in various places in Netrakona district.
He got married in Madhupur and began living there with his wife. Sajib Sagma and his wife work as laborers, maintaining a family with considerable hardship.
Sajib Sangma demands recognition and freedom fighters’ allowance.
These five brave soldiers fought for the country. But they are living a sub-human life. Porimol Kanti Goswami, Commander of the Muktijhoddah Sangshad, Madhupur Upazila Command, told The Independent that their names had been sent to the ministry.
If they were declared freedom fighters after the scrutiny of their papers, they would be given all the facilities extended to freedom fighters in distress.
Golam Samdani is Head, Dept Of English, Madhupur University College
& Correspondent, The Independent