• Friday, Nov 22, 2019
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Comilla passport office a hotbed of corruption

  • Published at 09:27 pm October 20th, 2019
File photo of Comilla regional passport office Dhaka Tribune

Complainant Mahabub, who lives in Saharpara in Comilla's Debidwar upazila, described to our reporter, the suffering he endured in trying to obtain a passport

Brokers in collusion with corrupt officials at the Comilla regional passport office are inflicting untold suffering on people trying to get passports issued, day after day. Those who want to get new passports issued or renew their passports in time, are having to pay brokers and then bribe officials as well.

Having suffered at the hands of unethical activities at the passport office, a passport seeker filed a written complaint with Comilla Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police, seeking relief from the harassment of brokers and corrupt officials.

Complainant Mahabub, who lives in Saharpara in Comilla's Debidwar upazila, described to our reporter, the suffering he endured in trying to obtain a passport.

On September 16,  when Mahabub tried to submit the passport application form after waiting in line for five hours, an official by the name of Mossaraf refused to accept the form, saying it was not filled out properly. 

Next day (September 17) he went there with the form filled out properly and the same official rejected the application for the second time, saying it was filled out wrongly and told him to contact the people (brokers) outside the office.

On September 18, Mahabub attempted for the third time to submit the application form, but he was told to bring the birth registration certificate. Later, on September 22, he went to the passport office again with the birth registration certificate and form, when another official named Sahidul Islam told him to submit the form through brokers. Otherwise, it would not be accepted.

Harassed repeatedly, a few days later Mahabub went to the office of the Deputy Director (DD) of the Comilla passport office to lodge complaints, but Deputy Director Raj Ahmed misbehaved with him and forced him to leave the office without hearing him out for a second.

Contacted by our reporter, Raj Ahmed denied the allegations of misconduct, saying no one had come there to lodge complaints. 

Mizanur Rahman, who also suffered harassment at the passport office, said: ''According to the website, passport applicants are told to submit application forms and other passport related papers in person, but when we go to the office, there is a different scenario. The service seekers are compelled to bribe brokers and officials to get them to do their job. I was forced to bribe after having failed in getting my passport by fair means.''

Badrul Huda Jenu, President of Socheton Nagorik Committee (SONAK) Comilla chapter said passport applicants have been harassed at the passport office for many years now. and urged the local administration to ensure good governance and accountability.

Md. Abul Fazal Mir, Deputy Commissioner of Comilla said: “We have received a complaint regarding the harassment an applicant faced at the passport office. We will look into the complaints.''