Haris Ahmed and Tofail Ahmed Josef, two of the three controversial brothers, not only changed their own names, but the names of their parents too. They had their national identity cards (NID) and passports made with their own pictures but different names and addresses. According to the rules, a person has to be present in person and get their photograph taken when getting their NID and passport issued.
Haris Ahmed got his NID and passport in the name of Mohammad Hasan. And Josef got his in the name of Tanveer Ahmed Tanzil. This is a punishable offence under the NID registration act and passport ordinance. It is still not confirmed whether another brother of theirs, Anis Ahmed, did the same.
Haris and Josef were both convicted for murder, one with a death sentence and other with life-term imprisonment. Anis Ahmed was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder. The home ministry on 28 March 2019 issued a gazette notification, remitting Haris and Anis’ sentences. Earlier, following an appeal by his mother Renuja Begum, Josef was granted presidential pardon. Josef had been in jail at the time.
A recent news documentary of the Qatar-based TV channel Al-Jazeera, referred to Haris and Anis as fugitive criminals. Even in Bangladesh, till Monday, everyone knew them to be absconding convicts. However, the lead report of Prothom Alo on Tuesday revealed that their sentence had been remitted.
According to the NID registration act, it is a punishable offence to intentionally or with ulterior motives, to provide false or distorted information or to conceal information to get a national ID card
Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) also revealed this. Army chief General Aziz Ahmed is another brother of these three. He too, on Tuesday, told the media that his brothers had been pardoned from their sentences.
In the records of several police stations and courts of the country as well as in the appeal made by Josef’s mother to pardon him, and in the government gazette notification acquitting them of their sentences, Haris and Josef’s father’s name had been recorded as Abdul Wadud and mother's name as Renuja Begum. But in the NID and passport Haris got issued, his father’s name has been recorded as Suleman Sarkar and mother’s name Rahela Begum. Then again, in Josef’s NID and passport, his father’s name has been given as Solaiman Sarkar and mother’s name as Fatema Begum. They have also used different permanent and present addresses.
In the court records and the government gazette notification, Anis and Josef’s address is given as D/9 Nurjehan Road, Mohammadpur, Dhaka 1207. But in Haris’ NID, made out in the name of Mohammad Hasan, his permanent address is given as Matlab Uttar upazila, Chandpur, and present address House 28, D-1 Block, Nurjehan Road, Mohammadpur, Dhaka. The NID was issued on 18 February 2014 in this name.
In Josef’s NID, made out in the name of Tanveer Ahmed Tanzil, his present address is in Mirpur DOHS. And permanent address is given as a house in Cantonment Bazar, Dhaka.
According to sources on the passport department, Haris had his passport issued in the name of Mohammad Hasan on 19 February 2014 from the Agargaon office in Dhaka. The emergency contact was given as Fatima Begum, R-28 Nurjehan Road, Mohammadpur. He made another passport in 2017, applying from Vienna. In 2019 he changed his picture on the passport. On 9 February 2020 the passport department issued an e-passport in his name, valid for 10 years.
Josef first got a passport on 13 May 2018 in the name of Tanveer Ahmed Tanzil. The permanent address given there was 123/A Tejkunipara, Tejgaon, Dhaka. And his present address was 40 Khanpur, Narayanganj. His marital status was unmarried. On 4 June that year he amended his passport, adding his wife’s name. In 2019 he changed his permanent address on the passport. On 9 March 2020 he got an e-passport. In this he changed his picture, permanent address and emergency contact address.
According to the NID registration act, it is a punishable offence to intentionally or with ulterior motives, to provide false or distorted information or to conceal information to get a national ID card. The penalty for such an offence is a maximum sentence of one year imprisonment or a fine of Tk 20,000 or both. According to Section 18 of this act, if any person forges his NID or intentionally carries that NID, he will be sentenced to seven years' imprisonment and maximum fine of Tk 100,000.
And, according to the Section 11 of the passport ordinance, it is a punishable offence if anyone intentionally provides false information or conceals the actual information and has a passport issued in a different name. The maximum sentence for such an offence is six months imprisonment or Tk 2000 fine.
When asked about the matter, additional director general of the passport department (passport, visa and immigration), Selina Banu, told Prothom Alo that they had received no complaints about the passports of these two. She said, if anyone takes a passport with false information or if complaints are received in this regard, the department takes legal action and cancels the passport.
A person's birth certificate and citizenship certificate are required to get an NID. These carry the person’s name and the person’s parents’ names. Based on that, personal information is added to the NID. So if an NID is to be made under a false name, then these two certificates will also have to carry false information.
According to the birth and death registration act, there is provision for a maximum fine of Tk 5000 or a maximum sentence of one year imprisonment or both if false information is provided concerning birth or death registration.
Director general of the NID wing, AKM Humayun Kabir, on Wednesday told Prothom Alo over mobile phone that he had not seen any report concerning Haris and Josef getting NID with false information. He refrained from further comment.
Attempts were made on Tuesday to contact the mobile numbers given on Haris and Josef’s passport application forms, but both numbers were turned off.
Supreme Court lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua, speaking to Prothom Alo about the matter, said that according to the passport ordinance and the NID registration act, intentionally providing false information is a punishable offence. He said, the officials who are involved in such unlawful work should also face the law.
* This report appeared in the print edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ayesha Kabir