Many field level polls officials share passwords of a software with data entry officers for corrections to national identity cards, which ultimately gives criminals the scope for forging the cards.
A section of the data entry officers, in exchange for money, help members of a gang commit the forgery, said EC sources.
Talking on the issue, top officials of the Election Commission's NID wing said they would soon start a combing operation at the field level election offices to oversee NID services-related activities.
Officials at upazila election offices and the wing said field level officers get passwords to access a software called Card Management System, which is linked to the EC's main server.
"This create scope for data entry officers to engage in various malpractices," said an NID wing official.
Upazila election officials also have the passwords as they need it for voter registration and correcting people's NID cards. The EC is trying to use a one-time password to stop the malpractices, said NID wing Director General Brig Gen Mohammad Sidul Islam.
"If anyone enters the system, it will automatically take a photo of the person. We will also keep track of how much time a person will be spending on the system," he said today.
Sidul also said they had formed two investigation committees after the arrests of two data entry officers on Saturday over forging NIDs.
Siddharth Shankar Sutradhar, 32, and Mohammad Anwarul Islam, 28, -- data entry operators of the capital's Sabujbagh and Gulshan election offices -- were held also on charges of helping loan defaulters secure bank loans using fake NIDs.
The EC suspended them after their arrest.
"Both the committees started working on Tuesday and they were asked to submit their probe report within a short time," he said.
Meanwhile, police's Detective Branch (DB) said a gang assisted at least 40 people in getting bank loans with forged NIDs in the last one year.
They claimed to have gleaned the information from five of the gang members, who were arrested in Mirpur on Sunday.
Law enforcers were interrogating the five -- Siddharth, Anwarul, Suman Parvez, Mohammad Majid, and Abdullah Al Mamun -- after they were placed on two-day remand each by a court.
Madhusudan Das, assistant commissioner of DB police, told The Daily Star today that they were trying to arrest four more members of the gang.
"We are suspecting that some more staffers of the Election Commission might be involved in the forgery. We are at the primary stage of the investigation. We will need some time to confirm it," he said.
HOW THE GANG WORKS
DB officials said the gang members target those who seek loans from banks. A group of brokers collect information on their "clients", who work for preparing documents for loan defaulters seeking fresh loans, they said.
If the Credit Information Bureau (CIB) report of the client is found not satisfactory, then the brokers take their clients to another group of brokers who work at the EC offices, Razib Al Masud, deputy commissioner of DB (Lalbagh division), told The Daily Star.
Then the client and the bank-related brokers make a deal with the EC office brokers and prepare a second NID card with the help of some data entry officials, he said.
According to sources, arrestee Suman Parvez earlier used to work at an audit firm, which actually verifies documents of loan seekers upon instructions from banks. So, Suman knew quite well how to forge those documents, the sources said.
DC Razib Al Masud, who is coordinating a case filed over the arrests, said
the data entry operators used to give inputs of client information to EC offices' offline server.
"For this reason, the previously inputted data and finger print of the clients did not match the newly entered data," he said.
He also said the server takes almost 15 to 20 days to come up with notification regarding such inputs. During that period, the brokers managed all others documents using the duplicate NID to seal the bank loans, he said.
"Interestingly, the duplicate NIDs are also found authentic when the bank goes on to verify the NIDS with the authorities concerned," he explained.