Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque and Dr. M. Abul Kashem Mozumder :
We have so far written much about the formation of government in exile at Mujibnagar. We seldom think of who among officials were participating in liberation war as incumbents in the government in exile. At present, over four decades of independence, it seemed difficult to identify the persons that served in the war time cabinet as officials.
The war cabinet was formed on 10 April 1971. Oath taking ceremony took place on 17 April 1971 with the portfolios assigned among the Ministers on 18 April. "The incumbents of the government were :
"Mujibnagar government was divided into fifteen ministries and divisions. Besides, some divisions were placed under the Cabinet. The functions of the ministries and divisions were:
"Ministry of Defence Staff MAG Osmany, Commander-in-Chief; SA Samad, Defence Secretary; Colonel Abdur Rab, Chief of Staff. The Ministry of Defence divided the war zone into eleven sectors and appointed a sector commander for each of the sectors. But there was no sector commander for sector No 10 or naval sector. Commandos used to fight under the command of the concerned sector commander whenever and wherever they carried out the operation in a particular sector. Besides, there were three brigades called Z force, K force and S force. Major Ziaur Rahman, Major Khaled Mosharraf and Major KM Shafiullah were the commanders of the brigades respectively."
"Ministry of Foreign Affairs sought to obtain support of the foreign governments and people at large for the cause of liberation of Bangladesh by establishing Bangladesh mission abroad and by sending diplomatic emissaries to various countries. With this end in view, diplomatic missions were established in Calcutta Delhi, London, Washington DC New York, and Stockholm. Diplomatic delegations were sent to the UNO, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Nepal, Srilanka, Burma, Thailand and Japan for gaining their support to the liberation war. Ministry of Finance, Industry and Commerce was headed by M Mansur Ali and Khondaker Asaduzzaman was its secretary". Cabinet Secretariat placed various proposals about the operation of the liberation war to the cabinet meeting, implementation of' the decisions of the meeting, and monitoring and recording these decisions. HT Imam was the secretary of the ministry."
A confusion has arisen in recent years about the list of officials in the Mujibnagar government. As Shawkat Liton disclosed:
"Yet another historic document, which contained names of employees of the Mujibnagar government in exile during the Liberation War, is missing from the government custody.
An enquiry by the law ministry revealed this while probing authenticity of the so-called 190 strong staff of the Mujibnagar government. These officials managed to obtain the apex court's order in their favour to get last year's appointments as sub-registrars by submitting forged papers.
The number of missing historic documents increased further with the latest disclosure by the law ministry's probe body. According to a report published by The Daily Star on June 18, 2008, the original copies of the country's proclamation of independence, formation of the Mujibnagar government, and the laws' continuance enforcement order of 1971 are missing from the government custody. The Cabinet Division, which was responsible for preserving the historic documents, had photocopies of those and handed over that to the National Archives in 2008.
Recently, the law ministry's probe body came up with adequate findings proving that the document containing names of employees of historic Mujibnagar government is missing from the establishment ministry's custody. The establishment ministry in August last year could not provide the law ministry with a copy of the historic document, as the ministry did not have it in its custody. In response to an April 13, 2008 letter of the law ministry that sought the copy of the document to check authenticity of the 190 so-called staffs, the establishment ministry on August 11, 2008 expressed its inability. "In the letter sent to the law ministry, the establishment ministry also cited its former secretary's confession to the High Court about missing of the historic document during hearing of contempt petitions. The probe body tagged a copy of the letter with its enquiry report. According to the letter, some so-called staff of the Mujibnagar government filed a number of contempt petitions against the government for the delay in absorbing them in the services in line with the apex court's order delivered earlier. The HC on July 24, 2008 during hearing of the contempt petitions ordered the then establishment secretary to appoint by August 19, 2008 the Mujibnagar staffs who were enlisted among 1,632 employees but were not absorbed. In response to the HC order, the then establishment secretary told the court that the ministry did not have the document containing names of the staffs. The court asked him to collect a copy of the list from counsels of the contempt of court petitioners. A counsel of the petitioners at that time told the HC that the list he had was not authenticated. However, the establishment ministry later collected a copy of the list from the petitioners who tagged it with their petitions and sent it to the law ministry that moved to scrutinise the claims of 190 Mujibnagar staffs. During investigation, a three-member probe body sent one of its members, Abu Ahmed Majumder, who is also a deputy secretary of the law ministry, to the establishment ministry to check the documents containing names of Mujibnagar staffs. The probe report said during investigation it was learned that there was an original list of 1,632 employees in the custody of the establishment ministry. The list and other papers concerned were authenticated in 1985 and the ministry's then deputy secretary Abdul Kayum Bhuiyan signed those. But the probe body did not find the copy of the list and other papers concerned. The probe body interviewed the so-called 189 staffs and concluded that a syndicate across the country is active and providing in exchange of money fake appointment and release letters of the historic government. One of the 190 staffs died before the committee interviewed them."
We think liberating documents are sacred and national assets. Claiming freedom fighters by managing certificates is highly immoral. Any man of conscience even with little contribution to liberation war would not likely to make such claim. If any officials/staff partook in the governing process of the war cabinet may well make such claims. There is no wrong in it. If any one among public bureaucracy makes such claim knowing that he/she did not serve in the wartime cabinet he is corrupt always trying to sit on the fence. Only fake freedom fighters-officials or ordinary citizens-are prone to moral degradation. They can not be expected to do any thing well. Immoral practice on the part of the incumbents/staff cannot be encouraged. Presence of fake freedom fighters in bureaucracy is sure to spell disaster all to the disenchantment to the people. Please clean administration flushing out corrupt incumbents/staff and give due respect to the bonafide freedom fighters working in various organizations public or private. It is next to impossible to recover the list of officials/staff were in the reckoning. Even it is not difficult to identify the prominent figures in bureaucracy who defected from Pakistan Government in 1971 and joined the war time cabinet contributing their part. Some among them went abroad with advocacy mission in favour of liberation war.
(Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque, Ex-Professor, department of Public Administration, Chittagong University and Dr. M. Abul Kashem Mozumder, Member, PSC, Bangladesh)