Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina marked Armed Forces Day on Tuesday by announcing new government allowances to members of the different forces who fought for the country’s independence in the 1971 Liberation War.
The premier said the allowances will be given from January 2018 to members of the armed forces, police, Ansar-VDP, and Border Guard Bangladesh - who were formerly known as the East Pakistan Rifles.
“My government is pledge-bound to preserve the glorious history and tradition of the Liberation War,” she said.
“It is our national responsibility to remember the invaluable contribution of the valiant freedom fighters in achieving independence.”
Sheikh Hasina said the forces members who joined the Liberation War were not given allowances as they were in-service at that time.
“All of them went into retirement and their families are now in much miseries (so) we will start providing allowances to them from next January,” she said.
The premier said such a demand is raised every year when she meets the veterans on Armed Forces Day. “So we have decided to give it,” she said.
Alongside discharging the sacred duty of safeguarding the country’s independence, the members of our patriotic armed forces are maintaining representative participation in development activities, construction of infrastructure, facing natural disasters and maintaining law and order
The prime minister presented gallantry awards to freedom fighters and their heirs at a reception held to mark the occasion of the Armed Forces Day 2017 at the Army Multipurpose Hall in Dhaka Cantonment.
Pointing out that her government did whatever necessary for the valiant freedom fighters, the prime minister said: “Within our limited capacity, we are trying to give dignity to those who took part in the Liberation War and embraced martyrdom.”
Principal Staff Officer of the Armed Forces Division (AFD), Lt Gen Md Mahfuzur Rahman, delivered the welcome address at the function.
Other attendees included Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque, PM’s Security Adviser Maj Gen (retd) Tarique Ahmed Siddiqui, 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.
At the reception, Sheikh Hasina presented honorarium cheques and gifts including mobile phones and tablets to the successors of seven Birshreshthos, as well as other gallantry award recipients.
The prime minister also handed over “Shantikalin Padak” (peacetime medals) to 12 armed forces members and “Osamanya Seba Padak” (outstanding service medals) to 14 armed forces officers in recognition of their heroic roles during the war and in peacetime.
Spelling out her government’s various steps for the welfare of the freedom fighters, the premier said their monthly honorarium has been enhanced from Tk900 to Tk10,000, while the number of allowance recipients has been increased to 200,000 from 100,000.
She said the monthly allowance for the Birshreshthos has been increased to Tk30,000, for the Biruttam to Tk25,000, for the Birbikram to Tk20,000, and the Birpratik to Tk15,000.Sheikh Hasina said the monthly state honorarium for the war-wounded freedom fighters and the families of martyred freedom fighters was also being enhanced, to between Tk25,000 and Tk45,000. She said the allowance-receiving freedom fighters are also being provided with various other allowances for education, weddings and festivals, and medicare facilities at home and abroad. At the outset of her speech, the prime minister extended her congratulations to the members of Bangladesh Armed Forces. “The great task of safeguarding the country’s independence has been reposed on the members of the armed forces,” she began. “Alongside discharging this sacred duty, the members of our patriotic armed forces are maintaining representative participation in development activities, construction of infrastructure, facing natural disasters and maintaining law and order.” The prime minister said her government is also pledge-bound for modernisation, infrastructure development and implementation of all kinds of welfare-oriented activities of the armed forces. The premier said a complex will be constructed in every district under a Tk1,078 crore scheme titled “District Freedom Fighters Building Complex”. So far, such complexes have been finished and handed over in 49 districts, she said. Sheikh Hasina said work on the construction of Muktijoddha Complexes began in 2013 in 470 upazilas, with 251 complexes completed to date. Later in the afternoon, at a reception in Dhaka’s Senakunja of Dhaka Cantonment marking Bangladesh Armed Forces Day, she urged members of the military to “work with the people for crafting a happy and prosperous Bangladesh with the spirit of the Liberation War”. The prime minister said: “This country is ours. The socioeconomic condition of the people will be much improved as the country is developed. The government is striving to promote Bangladesh as a dignified nation through achieving global standards in education, science, sports and other arenas.” The premier hoped that members of the armed forces would be able to uphold their dignity through their service to protect the country and make a contribution to national development. Sheikh Hasina said her government has undertaken substantial plans to make the armed forces fit for the 21st century. “Bangladesh Armed Forces, radiant with the ideals of the Liberation War, are our national pride. I hope for constant progress of the force so that they are acclaimed everywhere for their discipline, professional excellence and obedience to the chain-of-command,” she said. Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh Armed Forces has earned universal recognition for their “honesty, sincerity, efficiency and multifaceted services for the welfare of the people”. “The nation will always gratefully remember their sincere and responsible approaches and services they provide for humanity and protecting the lives and property during any natural disaster side by side protecting the country’s independence and sovereignty,” she said. “The role of the armed forces in assisting the forcefully displaced people of Myanmar has also been lauded highly at home and abroad.” The PM’s security adviser, Major General (retd) Tarique Ahmed Siddiqui, and the chiefs of the three armed services were present. Other attendees included parliament speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, acting chief justice Abdul Wahhab Miah, Leader of the Opposition Rowshan Ershad, Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda, and other cabinet members, party leaders, senior military officials and their spouses, diplomats and senior government officials.