Court moved to spur Bangladesh govt to honour ex-Beetle

Dhaka, December 11:

A Bangladeshi lawyer who wants his country to officially recognise George Harrison and Ted Kennedy for highlighting its 1971 struggle for independence has taken his battle to the country’s high court.

Masood Sobhan says it is a “disgrace” that the former Beatle and the US senator were never formally thanked by Bangladesh for publicising its suffering as it fought for independence from Pakistan.

“It is shameful. It is really a tragedy that we have to go to court to seek recognition for their great contribution to this country,” Sobhan told AFP.

“It is a national debt. We should recognise them out of decency, out of moral obligation and out of gratitude.” Sobhan also wants the country to honour former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, who allowed many Bangladeshis to take refuge across the border during the war. The case is expected to be heard before the end of the month.

Harrison famously penned the song “Bangla Desh” and held a benefit concert in New York’s Madison Square Garden on August 1, 1971 to raise money for the grindingly poor, war-torn nation. Harrison, who died in 2001 after a battle with lung cancer, never visited Bangladesh. Sobhan argues Senator Kennedy, who was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour earlier this year, was equally instrumental in drawing attention to the plight of both those who had fled Bangladesh and those who stayed behind during the war.

“He needs to know in his lifetime that we are grateful for all he did. That invitation needs to come from the state,” said Sobhan, adding that it would be up to officials to decide exactly how to recognise Kennedy, Harrison and Gandhi.