An affront to independence war heroes
The concerns of a parliamentary panel that the Freedom Fighters’ Welfare Trust set up in 1972 ‘with the objective of rehabilitating families of martyred and wounded freedom fighters,’ is being ‘systematically’ destroyed by vested interests, indeed demand an immediate response on part of the government. According to a New Age report on Thursday, the parliamentary standing committee on the liberation war affairs ministry at its meeting on Wednesday, while discussing the ongoing disastrous condition of all the 36 commercial ventures, apparently because of their unabated losses, run by the trust, also alleged that the vested quarters were out to grab the valuable land and other property of the trust. Besides, the committee deplored the apparent inaction of the incumbent Awami League-Jatiya party government, which more often than not describes itself as the champion of the spirit of the independence war, about protecting these enterprises.
Notably, at its inception, the government handed over the ownership of 19 industrial and commercial enterprises to the trust, many of which proved profitable until a certain period. Not only that, the profit earned by these organisations was also spent on different programmes intended to benefit families of hundreds of insolvent martyred freedom fighters especially those registered with the trust during the period. Like the Bangladesh Nationalist Party lawmaker tied to the committee, one can rightly recall the trust-run Tabani Beverage Industries Limited which, although now a losing concern, once met the country’s total demand for soft drinks.
The industrial and commercial concerns under the ownership of the trust are mostly the ones abandoned by their Pakistani owners. Most importantly, almost all of them are situated on prime locations in cities such as Dhaka and Chittagong while many of them spread over sprawling campuses, thus exposed to grabbing. In addition, rampant privatisation pursued by successive governments, including the incumbent one, of the entities belonging to the public sector for a few decades may have paved the way for grabbers mostly connected to the ruling quarters to heighten their efforts to encroach on these organisations. Pertinently, the key figures of the government, not least the prime minister, have on more occasions than one pledged to rejuvenate the ailing enterprises at hand in three years and a half or so, regrettably though, only to forget later.
It would, indeed, be a shame for the nation if the incumbents continue to fail to address the woes of the organisations in question. After all, they are tied to the freedom fighters, who braved the Pakistani occupation of our motherland, and cannot give in to the conspiracies of the encroachers.
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