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Local govt reps ‘play the cronies’

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‘Some local residents are facilitating Rohingyas to get passports in the names of their children


Publication Date: 19 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Media: The Independent
Original Link: Local govt reps ‘play the cronies’
E-paper Link: Local govt reps ‘play the cronies’

Some local government representatives and notary public staff along with middlemen are allegedly helping Rohingya refugees to get Bangladeshi national identity (NID) cards, nationality and birth certificates and even passports. It is alleged that they are issuing birth certificates, nationality certificates and recommendations for issuing passports for the Rohingyas. In some cases, local leaders are meeting with the deputy director of the Department of Immigration and Passport (DIP) Office in Cox’s Bazar for insisting that Bangladeshi passports be issued to the Myanmar nationals. Interestingly, the police are submitting positive verification reports for the Rohingyas.

One Yesmin Akhter, 21, applied for a passport on July 10, 2017 at the Cox’s Bazar passport office, showing Mohammed Hossen and Nur Nahar Begum of Pachchim Natun Baharchara, ward No. 2, Cox’s Bazar Sadar as her parents. Her birth registration was done on June 6, 2017 and on the same day the certificate was issued in her favour by Cox’s Bazar panel mayor-2 and BNP leader Rafiqual Islam and his office assistant Didarul Alam.

Suspecting that she was a Rohingya, DIP was delaying the passport. The local ward councillor and Awami League leader, Mizanur Rahman, issued a nationality certificate and a landless certificate, recommendations for her to get the passport easily. He also met with the DD passport in Cox’s Bazar thrice for insisting that the passport be issued. Owing to the pressure from the councillor, the DD passport sent the file for police verification. The report said she is a Bangladeshi citizen and a passport was issued to her (No. BQ064916).

However, she was caught at Cox’s Bazar airport in February while being sent to Malysia as it was known that she is a Rohingya. Rafiqual Islam, panel mayor-2 of Cox’s Bazar municipality, and Didarul Alam, office assistant of the municipality, issued her the birth certificate. Like Yesmin, another woman, Sanjida Begum, got the birth certificate and the nationality certificate from the panel mayor and the ward councillor.

After Yesmain was arrested, DIP called local ward councillor Mizanur Rahman. He was, however, released after giving an undertaking that he would not do such a thing in the future. The Independent has a copy of the undertaking.

There are about 200 applications by Rohingyas for passports in our office, Abu Naium Masum, deputy director of Cox’s Bazar Regional Passport Office said.

DIP sources said some local government representatives, in exchange for money, are giving the Rohingyas birth certificates, nationality certificates and landless certificates and even recommendations.

Three notary public officers—Abul Kalam, AK Fazlul Haq and Rakhal Chandra Barman—are attesting most passport

applications of the Rohingyas and in some cases helping them to prepare fake documents.

Analysing the documents, it was found that the maximum applications from the Cox’s Bazar sadar come from Rohingyas with “original” birth certificates. Moreover, they have nationality certificates and other documents.

Sources said a vested interest group comprising local panel mayor and BNP leader Rafiqul Islam his office assistant Didarul Alam and ward councillor Mizanur Rahman is helping Rohingyas get Bangladeshi nationality certificates and passport, while some notary public officers are helping them get other forged documents in exchange for money.

It is also alleged that some local residents are faciliting the Rohingyas to get passports in the names of their children.

“Not only that they are issuing birth certificates, nationality certificates, landless certificates and recommendations for the Rohingyas, but they are also putting pressure on us to issue passports for the Rohingyas. However, we do not pay heed to them, we do our job,” said Abu Naium Masum, DD of Cox’s Bazar Regional Passport Office.

“All the birth certificates are real as they manage to get the certificates issued by local people’s representatives,” he added.

“It is difficult for us to refuse an application if the police clearance report is positive and the local government  representatives say that the applicant is an inhabitant of his/her locality. We have at least six applicants with the police clearance report. However, we have come to know that they are Rohingyas, so we are not issuing passports for them,” added Masum.

Contacted, Mizanur Rahman told The Independent: “I issue nationality certificates and landless certificates if local people apply to us. I have issued the certificates at the request of the ward AL president. If anyone comes to us and says he/she needs certificates for their children, what we can do?”

However, he confirmed that he has given an undertaking to the DD passport in Cox’s Bazar for having issued certificates to Rohingyas.

At the same time, panel mayor-2 Rafiqual Islam said he issued birth certificates after getting recommendation from ward councillors. “I have nothing to do if ward councillors’ recommendations are there in the application for birth certificates.”

Attempts to contact Dr Iqbal Hossain, superintendent of police of Cox’s Bazar district, went in vain. His phone went unanswered several times.

Shamsuddin Illius
Shamsuddin Illius is a print and online media journalist. He has been working in the field (fulltime) of journalism since 2010. He is very much passionate about journalism since his early age. Currently he is the Bureau Chief-Chittagong at The Business Standard.

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