Questions arise over 3 army officials recommending NIDs for ex-army chief’s brother

Haris Ahmed

Haris Ahmed, brother of former army chief General (retired) Aziz Ahmed, made a new national identity card (NID) providing false information to take the identify of Mohammed Hasan, and recommendations of three army officials allegedly used to process various documents including land deeds to create the fake identity.

One of the officials facing allegations, however, claimed to Prothom Alo they made no such recommendations and another official claimed his signature almost matched with the one on certain land deed documents, but that was not his signature. As a result, questions also arose on whether fake recommendations of army officials were used to make the false identity of the former army chief’s brother.

A review of various police and court documents, as well as an appeal filed by their mother seeking to reduce sentences to Tofail Ahmed Joseph, another brother of Aziz Ahmed, and the government gazette on commuting sentences show Abdul Wadud is the name of Haris’ father and Renuza Begum is his mother, but, according to the new NID and passports, the father’s name is Suleman Sarkar and the mother’s name is Rahela Begum.

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A Prothom Alo investigation found Haris filled up a registration form on 16 February 2014 to be registered as a voter with the identity of Mohammad Hasan. The application contains the reference “Brig. Gen. Akhtaruzzaman, DG Signal, 16/02/14.” Two days later, a NID was issued for Haris Ahmed with the name of Mohammad Hasan. He changed his photo in the NID on 5 August 2019. His brother and then army chief Aziz Ahmed recommended changing the photo in the fake NID.

The Election Commission was responsible for providing the NID and an NID was issued when one becomes a voter. According to sources concerned, when officials concerned of the commission receive a written or verbal reference for voter registration or any correction, they make a note on the application writing ‘reference’ with the recommender’s name, and then archive the application. They do it so that they can easily find the recommender in case any problem arises in future.

Sources concerned said Brig Gen (retired) Akhtaruzzaman Siddique has been mentioned as the reference on the voter registration form. He was the director of the Identification System for Enhancing Access to Services (IDEA) project of the election commission from 2010 to 2013. The commission started providing NID under the IDEA project. Akhtaruzzaman Siddique was the director general of the National Identity Registration Wing and then served as the director (signals) at the army headquarters. Later, he became the dean of the Bangladesh University of Professionals and lastly the IT advisor at Trust Bank.

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Prothom Alo contacted Akhtaruzzaman Siddique over the coming up of his name as a reference on the voter registration form of the former army chief’s brother to create a false identity. He told Prothom Alo he was not in the National Identity Registration Wing in 2014 and he was at the signal department at the time. He claimed to make no such recommendation for anyone. Replying to a query on how his name came up then, he said those who wrote it must be asked.

A documentary, which was broadest in Al Jazeera in 2021, revealed that Haris prepared a land document using the fake identity of Mohammad Hasan and the foreign ministry attested to it. Brigadier General Abul Hasnat Mohammad K Basher and Major Md Sujaul Haque, address: BGB, Pilkhana, were witnesses. It is to mention that Aziz Ahmed was the director general of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) from 2012- 2025.

Major General Abul Hasnat Mohammad Khairul Bashar, currently the Bangladesh ambassador to Libya, was the additional director general (operations and training) of the BGB at the time. He told Prothom Alo over mobile phone on Friday that he watched the Al Jazeera documentary, where the name was spelt as ‘Abul Hasnat Mohammad K Basher’ and he never writes his name like this, rather he writes ‘Abul Hasnat Mohammad Khairul Bashar’ all the time. Though the signature is nearly similar, it does match his signature completely. He did not recall he ever signed such a document or anyone ever asked him to sign it. He does not know whether the document has been signed by someone else either.

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According to the National Identity Registration Act, it is a punishable offence, if anyone intentionally or willingly provides false or fabricated information or conceals information will be deemed a punishable offence and in doing so one may face a maximum of a year in prison or a fine of a maximum of 20,000 taka or both. Anyone forging the NID or carrying this NID knowingly will face seven years in prison and a fine of a maximum of 100,000 taka. Anyone helping someone forge the NID will also face seven years in prison and a fine of a maximum of 100,000 taka.

Haris Ahmed and Tofael Ahmed alias Josef, two brothers of former army chief Aziz Ahmed, made new NIDs by changing their parents’ names, and Josef took two NIDs, which is punishable by law.

When Aziz Ahmed was the army chief, Prothom Alo and several local and international news media published reports on Aziz Ahmed exerting influence to get NID cards and passports for his brothers with false information while he was still in charge.

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Aziz Ahmed’s brother Haris was sentenced to life in prison in two murder cases. Another brother of his, Anis was convicted in a murder case and was sentenced to life in prison.

The home ministry published the circular on the remission of their sentences on 28 March 2019.

Joseph was accused in a case filed over the killing of Mohmmadpur-base businessperson Mostafizur Rahman in 1996. He was sentenced to death by the court. The High Court upheld the verdict of the lower court. Later, the appellate division commuted the sentence to life in prison. Joseph was released from prison after securing a pardon from the president.

Aziz Ahmed served as the army chief from 25 June 2018 to 23 June 2021. The US has imposed a sanction on the former army chief on the allegation of being involved in corruption. As a result, he and his family members have lost the eligibility to enter the USA.

This report appeared in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna

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