Investigations in a case filed over preparing fake National Identity (NID) for Rohingyas have been halted. No new arrests have been made in the last seven months. Five accused have been released in bail.
Thirty-five officials and employees of the election commission (EC) were found to be involved with the crime in investigation and confessional statements of five employees under section 164. Fifteen, including 11 EC employees, were arrested, the last one being Rishikesh Das, office assistant EC’s Chattogram office on 12 December 2019.
The gang was making Rohingyas, who were forcibly displaced from their homes in Rakhine state by the Myanmar Army, voters of Bangladesh for at least five years in return of money. They have issued at least 3,800 Bangladeshi NIDs to Rohingyas.
Deputy commissioner of Chattogram Metropolitan Police’s counter terrorism unit, the investigation agency of the NID scam case, Hasan Mohammad Shawkat Ali, holds the coronavirus situation responsible for the halt of the investigation.
Speaking to Prothom Alo on Monday, he said there are some rules regardfing the arrest of the government employees. We are following those and the investigations will speed up within a few days.
Secretary of Chattogram unit of Citizens for Good Governance (SHUJAN), Akhtar Kabir Chowdhury, told Prothom Alo that investigations have already revealed that the accused fugitives are involved in making Rohingyas voters of Bangladesh in exchange of money. High officials of EC will remain behind the curtains if they are not arrested.
Backdrop of the case
Sources related to investigation told Prothom Alo that a letter is likely to be issued to the election commission through the police headquarters for arrests.
A Rohingya woman, Ramzan Bibi, went to collect her NID card issued in the name of ‘Lucky’ at Chattogram divisional election office on 22 August 2019. Being suspicious of the way she spoke, the Chattogram divisional election officials contacted Hathazari upazila election office. The Hathazari office said they did not register Lucky as a voter or issue an NID card in her name.
Later in was revealed that that woman made the NID card in exchange of money. A case was filed with Kotwali police station. CMP’s counter terrorism unit began investigating the case.
Court sources said, of the 15 arrested in the case, 11 are EC officials. Four of them are permanent employees while seven are temporary. Five of them gave confessional statements before the court admittingy their misdeeds.
They are – EC’s Chattogram office assistants Nazim Uddin, Anwar Hossain, Joynal Abedin, temporary data entry operator Mostafa Faruk and temporary employee at Dhaka office of election commission Shahnur Mia.
Their statements reveal how they made the Rohingyas voters of Bangladesh taking EC’s laptops and other equipment home and uploading the data in the EC server through officials. Prothom Alo has already published a few reports on this.
Accused on bail
Five of the accused, including one who gave a confessional statement, were released on bail from Chhatogram central jail in May. The five are – EC’s Chattogram office assistant Abul Khair Bhuiyan, office assistant Anwar Hossain, Kotwali police station’s data entry operator Md Shahin, Bandar police station’s data entry operator Md Jahid and Double Mooring police station’s data entry operator Pavel Barua.
Speaking to Prothom Alo Chattogram metropolitan public prosecutor Md Fakhruddin said the court is running virtually amidthe coronavirus situation. The state would have surely challenged the bail order if the court proceedings were run normally.
* The report, originally published in the print edition of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza