A nexus of brokers and some dishonest staffers of the Election Commission’s Chattogram office provides forged national identity cards to Rohingyas, an EC investigation team has found.
Three members of the syndicate were arrested on Monday. An EC laptop, used in the forgery, was recovered from their possession, EC Deputy Director (NID) Iqbal Hossain, head of the three-member team, told The Daily Star yesterday.
The arrestees are Jainal Abedin, 35, office assistant of Double Mooring Election Office under the Chattogram EC office, Bijoy Das, 23, a driver, and his sister Sima Das alias Sumaiya Jahan, 26, said Mohammad Mohsin, officer-in-charge of Kotwali Police Station.
Yesterday, Double Mooring Thana Election Officer Pallabi Chakma filed a case against five people, including the three, with the police station under the Digital Security Act, the OC said.
The two other accused are one Sagar, 37, and one Satya Sundar Dey, 38, said the OC, adding, police were raiding different places to arrest them.
Sagar and Satya both worked at EC projects in Dhaka in 2012, said an official of the commission, wishing not to be named.
The EC team was working to trace other members of the nexus and the number of forged NID cards provided to Rohingyas using the EC database, said Iqbal.
He said they were also analysing the laptop.
Earlier this month, police and passport officials said some Rohingya refugees were making Bangladeshi passports using forged NIDs with the help of some locals and Rohingya brokers.
The Rohingya people were using fake names and addresses while applying for the identification documents.
Recently, a government probe body committee has found that at least 73 suspicious applications were uploaded to the Election Commission database for issuing NIDs. The committee unearthed the information while probing the forged NID card of a Rohingya woman in Chattogram.
The committee, however, could not determine from which EC office those applications were uploaded, said the head of the body, Kotwali Thana Election Officer Kamrul Alam.
The EC team, headed by Iqbal, was formed for further investigation as per the suggestion of the probe committee.
Talking to The Daily Star, Iqbal said, “We started our investigation in Cox’s Bazar on September 11 and identified some members of the nexus.”
“We’ve also identified some Rohingya people who are trying to get fake NID cards,” he said, adding, “During our investigation, we came to know that some officials of the Election Commission’s Chattogram District Office were involved in the syndicate.
“We then came back to Chattogram and held Jainal. He confessed that he stole an EC laptop and handed it over to his friend Bijoy.”
Iqbal said they contacted Bijoy and asked him to appear before the EC office with the laptop. But he sent his sister Sima with the device, he said.
“Examining the laptop, we are confirmed that it is an official device of the Election Commission. It is used for uploading voters’ information to the Election Commission’s database for issuing NIDs,” the EC official said.
Bijoy told the investigators he took the laptop to his home in port city’s Anderkilla about a month ago.
“We have found data of 51 voters in the laptop,” Iqbal said, adding, “The information is being verified.”
Mentionable, Anti-Corruption Commission officials, while visiting Chattogram District Election Office on Sunday, discovered that a laptop had been missing from the office since 2015.
Investigators believe it was used for making over 2,000 dubious entries into the EC database, said ACC sources.
Contacted, Munir Hussain Khan, Chattogram District Election officer, said they were not yet sure whether the missing laptop and the one with the EC team were the same device.