The National Identity Card (NID) card is a mandatory document for the citizens of Bangladesh, which can be availed by anyone over the age of 18. The national identity cards issued before 2016 only display the name of the person, father's and mother's name, date of birth, ID number, photo and signature. The smart card issued in 2016 has an integrated circuit card (ICC) attached to it, also known as a chip card. The smart card can be read with the help of the chip card machine. All the information of the citizen is stored in this smart card.
The NID department of the Bangladesh Election Commission has been praised by all for providing identity cards to the citizens. Its primary purpose though was to create accurate voter lists. Later, the use of national identity card is now mandatory for all important tasks including employment, land registration, passports, opening bank accounts, buying mobile SIM cards, electricity, water and gas connections and for other facilities. Naturally, it was expected that the identity card would be accurate and error-free. Like other areas of public service, the persons involved in the sector remained sloppy.
The recent report of errors in NID cards of the members of a family in Akkelpur published in Prothom Alo is a common picture of many families or citizens. Moslim Uddin, a resident of Balait Purba Para village in Kalai upazila of Joypurhat, is over 75 years old. His date of birth is written on the national identity card as 28 October 1959. His wife Surtan Begum was born on 24 April 1962 according to the card, which is much less than her actual age.
The most ridiculous is that their eldest son Sobhan’s date of birth was shown 1 June 1963. He is four years younger than his father and 10 months younger than his mother according to their NID's. Although Moslim Uddin lives on charity, he is not able to apply for old age allowance to the government due to his age shown on the national identity card. It has been alleged that the father's name has been given in place of the husband's name of a woman in Bogura's Dhunat upazila.
Not only Kalai or Dhunat upazila, millions of such error in NID will be found across the country. Many are facing all sort of trouble or being deprived of state and institutional services. The Election Commission has said that in order to apply for age correction, one has to submit the necessary documents including the marriage certificate. But many people like Moslim Uddin and Surtan Begum do not have marriage certificates. Why will they be deprived of the benefits they deserve?
It is also necessary to look into whether it is possible for the Election Commission to issue accurate identity cards for all with the current workforce. The matter of delegating the responsibility to another organisation was discussed recently. National identity cards with errors need to be corrected immediately. The task would have been easier if an accurate database of citizens had been created nationally.