Govt to look into proposal to bar female officials from guard of honour

Monday, 14 June 2021

A parliamentary committee’s recommendation to bar female officials from giving the guard of honour to dead freedom fighters will be looked into “in detail”, Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam has said.

Asked whether the government is going to take a decision on the matter, Islam after a meeting of the cabinet on Monday said, “I’ve seen it on the news. What do you think? We need to know what has been said.”

When war veterans die, they are honoured by the district or Upazila authorities on behalf of the state.

Government officials, such as deputy commissioners or Upazila executive officers or UNOs, place flowers on the coffin as per the state honour rules, reports bdnews24.com.

Women head the administrations in many districts and Upazilas as DCs and UNOs, and this is where the parliamentary standing committee on Liberation War affairs ministry sees the problem.

It discussed the issue on Sunday and recommended replacing the women officials with male during the guard of honour for the freedom fighters.

After the matter was raised with the cabinet secretary on Monday, the media statement regarding the matter was read out to him.

“What you said is the summary. We have to see what was discussed in the meeting. At times, when a party points out a High Court ruling, the implication appears opposite after it is read out.”

“The implications of what is mentioned in Hadith (words of Islamic prophet Muhammad) are also the opposite at times. We have to abide by what the state asks us to do. If the benefactor gives orders, it must be obeyed.”

“I need to know. I don’t know why they spoke about the guard of honour. If the matter was about religious restrictions, I would’ve been able to say something. Let us see,” Islam said.

Meanwhile, Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee has condemned the proposal, and said doing so will only encourage religious fundamentalism by the state.

In a joint statement issued by the central committee and the advisory council, it said, “We were stunned to learn about this through the media. What the government of Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina has done to ensure respect for women and special dignity for freedom fighters will be preserved in history.”

“How a parliamentary committee can make such misogynistic, anti-human, anti-constitutional, anti-Liberation War recommendations on the pretext of religion at a time when a pro-liberation government is in power is beyond our comprehension. We strongly condemn this heinous proposal.”

“The consequence of the parliamentary committee trying to draw out the venomous snake of fundamentalism by raising objections against women’s participation in freedom fighters’ guard of honour will be disastrous for the current government, society, state and nation.”

It called for the immediate withdrawal of the proposal and demanded an apology from those involved in forwarding the recommendation for such ‘reprehensible act’.

The Women Cell of the Communist Party of Bangladesh or CPB have called for lawful steps against ‘conspirators’ behind the proposal.

A statement from the central committee of CPB’s Woman Cell read, “Those who made the proposal have breached the constitution of Bangladesh and placed themselves against the spirit of the Liberation War.”

“Making such propositions is a show of audacity. In no way will the women of Bangladesh and our people accept this proposal.”