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13 June, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 13 June, 2019 01:41:48 AM
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Fast intensifying Rohingya crisis

Rohingyas continue to pocket Bangladeshi passports

Deepak Acharjee, Dhaka

A number of Rohingya people with Bangladeshi machine readable passports (MRPs) are trying to leave the country in search of a better future. All of them collected their MRPs from different offices of the Department of Immigration and Passport (DIP) after submitting necessary documents like national identification cards (NIDs) and birth certificates.

But there is something fishy: Rohingyas are forcibly displaced citizens of Myanmar and not natural citizens of this country. How did they manage to get the MRPs, NIDs and birth certificates from the authorities concerned? The DIP authorities say that they have issued the passports on the basis of police verification. On their part, the police claim that they have verified the identities of these Rohingyas on the basis of NIDs and other required documents.  

According to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, a racket, in cahoots with unscrupulous employees of the DIP, the NID department and the police, are operating across the country to manage MRPs, NIDs and other documents for Rohingyas. Law enforcers have already arrested a number of Rohingyas with Bangladeshi passports in the last one year.

But such arrests have not curtailed the issuance of such passports in the name of Rohingya refugess. DIP additional director general (passport, visa & immigration) Selina Banu  told The Independent that they already cancelled a number of passports issued against Rohingyas.

She claimed that such passports were issued on the basis of police verification and submission of required documents like NIDs and birth certificates. “We have instructed our officials to issue passports only after interviewing suspicious candidates,” she said.

Sources in the DIP say that they have recently cancelled a number of passports for Rohingya women. These include passport no. EA 0306758, issued against Ayesha, passport no. EA 03740381, issued against Minara Begum, passport no. EA 01962747, issued against Daliya Nasrin Liza.

Additional inspector general of police (Special Branch) Mir Shahidul Islam told this correspondent that they had taken punitive action against 18 sub-inspectors (SIs) in the last couple of months for their involvement in faulty passport verification of Rogingyas. “We have already instructed all Special Branch offices to investigate the passport applicants properly. If negligence of verification is found for anybody, stern action would be taken against him/her,” he said. “In some cases, it is difficult to identify whether the applicants are local or Rohingyas. Many Rohingyas have entered the country since a long time. They have collected NIDs and birth certificates. They have even obtained  certificates from local councillors or chairmen. They can speak fluent Bangla as well,” he also said.

“We will be able to detect Rohingyas easily if we could integrate the NID with biometric registration issued by the DIP for Rohingyas. Efforts are on this regard,” he added.

Kurigram passport office assistant director Abdul Motaleb Sarker said they arrested some Rohingya women and their touts for suspicious beheviour and handed them over to the police.

“We are closely monitoring our employees to ensure that they are not involved in any racket. We have received instructions from the head office of the Department of Immigration and Passport (DIP) in this respect,” he added.

On April 3, Fatema Begum(26), Mosammad Meem (25), Aleya Khatun (26) and Nurika Khatun (25)—all of them Rohingya women—went to the regional passport office in Kurigram to apply for Bangladeshi MRPs using the address of Gopalpur village under Santoshpur union in Nageshwari.  

Arifa Khatun, a Rohingya trafficker, accompanied them to the passport office. But they were caught by the police.

After being arrested, Arifa Khatun informed the police that she maintained connections with employees of the passport office. These employees help her in obtaining Bangladeshi passports for Rohingya people in exchange of money, she confessed.

According to sources, Rohingyas are getting Bangladesh passports from 2010. At that time, the authorities concerned seized 31,205 handwritten passportsfrom the regional passport office in Mymensingh. It was alleged that a section of passport department officials had issued those passports to different groups of people with questionable motives, including Rohingyas.

According to sources in the expatriate and overseas employment ministry, a number of Rohingyas are working as Bangladesh citizens in different countries, especially in Saudi Arabia and  Malaysia, using Bangladeshi passports.  A Bangladeshi passport had also been issued to Anup Chetia, leader of the banned ULFA in India, though it was cancelled later.

In 2018, then expatriates welfare minister Nurul Islam said that about 250,000 Rohingyas had gone abroad with Bangladeshi passports.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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