Noakhali policemen involved in enabling refugees to obtain fake documents
It is no secret that Rohingyas, having spent years in cramped Cox’s Bazar refugee camps, are now trying to seek out various means for a better life, inside or outside Bangladesh.
Having survived brutal persecution in Myanmar and living a life of destitution in the camps in Bangladesh, many desperate Rohingyas are spending money to get their hands on fake documents to pass themselves off as Bangladeshis.
Over the past few months, around 100 Rohingya people have been detained in various districts with Bangladeshi passports and national identity cards (NIDs), which only Bangladeshis can use.
Investigation shows the refugees have been paying good money — source yet to be determined — to fraud gangs, trafficking rings, local public representatives, and government and police officials, to get such documents at ease.
Rohingyas are getting Bangladeshi NIDs and passports to go abroad in search of a better life, on their own, or with the help of human traffickers.
On September 5, Akbar Shah police in Chittagong arrested three Rohingyas with Bangladeshi passports from the port city’s Kattoli area.
The three — Md Yusuf, 24, Md Musa, 22, and Md Aziz, 23 — were preparing to board a Dhaka-bound bus to visit the Turkish Embassy in the capital to apply for visas.
They collected their passports from the Regional Passport Office in Noakhali between December 2018 and January 2019, submitting fake birth and citizenship certificates, and fake NIDs.
In the above case, the District Special Branch (DSB) police officers responsible for verifying the documents had taken bribes and cleared the passport applications, their superiors confirmed.
Both DSB officers have been show-caused, said Noakhali SP Alamgir Hossain. He also added that DSB Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Abul Kalam Azad has already been temporarily suspended and action is pending against ASI Nurul Huda.
“We are investigating how these Rohingyas got the passports with fake documents. If anyone is found negligent, departmental action will be taken against them,” said the SP.
Meanwhile, officials at the Noakhali passport office said they had no idea how the Rohingyas got the passports and they had nothing to do in such cases.
Who and how
Originally from Maungdaw in Rakhine state, Rohingyas Musa, Yusuf, and Aziz, crossed over to Bangladesh in 2017 after facing brutal persecution at the hands of Myanmar security forces and local extremist mobs.
For the past two years, they have been living in a refugee camp in Khaiyangkhali’s Hakimpara of Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar.Musa mentioned above, is Yusuf’s younger brother.
The three got their fake NIDs using Noakhali’s Senbagh upazila as their false permanent address, and obtained their Bangladeshi passports from the Noakhali passport office through a fraud gang.
Three brokers of that gang sheltered them in Noakhali for days while they created their fake documents and collected the passports.
The Rohingya youths have told police the names of the brokers, officials said, who declined to share the information, considering the ongoing investigation.
According to Yusuf, Musa, and Aziz, they paid Tk105,000, Tk90,000, and Tk60,000 respectively, to the brokers for the passports. It is not yet known how they managed to afford that kind of money.
Senbagh police and local administration officials have also confirmed that the identities, their parents’ identities and the local addresses – under Senbagh’s Kadra union – which the Rohingya youths used in their documents were absolutely false.
DSB Inspector Md Asaduzzaman said he went to the Noakhali passport office last Sunday and cross checked the documents of the three Rohingyas.
"Apparently, their citizenship certificates were signed by the current Kadra Union Parishad Chairman, Md Kamruzzaman, and their birth certificates were issued by former chairman, Md Obaidul Haque.
“Also, searching the district server station, I could not trace the NID card numbers and mobile phone numbers provided in the three Rohingya passport applications done by the fraud gang,” he said.
However, Kamruzzaman said: "The birth certificates issued on January 28, 2015, in the names of the three Rohingyas are not registered in any of the databases. Their documents are fake.
"I was sworn-in as chairman on December 21, 2016. The dates in these Rohingyas’ Bangladeshi citizenship certificates show they were issued in November 2018. But my office did not issue these certificates."
DSB official Asaduzzaman said that ASIs Azad and Huda both confessed to submitting false verification reports on these passports. “Necessary departmental action will be taken against them,” he added.
A DSB official, requesting anonymity, also said that Azad and Huda took large sums of money from the Rohingyas’ brokers, did not verify the personal information of the three, and submitted their reports,clearing the passports for the Rohingya men.
The official said some local representatives and DSB officers responsible for passport verification were also helping the brokers of the fraud gang in getting the Rohingyas their Bangladeshi passports.
"In February this year, 54 Rohingyas were arrested from the airport while trying to leave the country with Bangladeshi passports. Two of them used a false Senbagh address to get the passports,” he added.
Speaking with Dhaka Tribune, Azad and Huda both confirmed the action taken and pending against them, but did not comment on the allegations of corruption and negligence.
Meanwhile, Noakhali passport office Deputy Director Nurul Huda said the passports of Rohingya youths Yusuf and Musa were issued on December 24, 2018,and Aziz's one on January 22 this year.
“But we have nothing to do in cases like this,” he said. “We issue passports only after the DSB verifies the applicant’s information and submits its clearance report.”
He claimed: “No one from my office was involved in issuing the passports to these three Rohingyas.
“But if investigation finds anyone involved and guilty, legal action will be taken against them.”
According to an ongoing Dhaka Metropolitan Police investigation, Rohingya refugees are being trafficked abroad on a five phase system, with locals involved in creating fake documents for the victims.
Investigators said the victims are primarily trafficked to Malaysia, Indonesia, India, and some other countries for the sex trade.
Aditto Ahsan contributed to this report