Rohingyas’ free access to National ID in Bandarban

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Hill Voice, 28 September 2020, Bandarban: It has passed three years ever since the Rohingyas took refuge in Bangladesh. But in the 4th year, even though no relocation has taken place, the number of Rohingyas is declining in the camps. Such numerical decrease of the Rohingyas went up more than 2 lakhs over the last 3 years. Lessening in their numbers is increasing day by day. Following the violence in Rakhine on 25 August 2017, the Rohingyas entered Bangladesh in exodus. As per the biometric registration record of the Passport Authority, the number of Rohingyas is 11,18,576. They have been sheltered in 34 camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf of Cox’s Bazaar.

The Inter-Sector Coordination Group (ISCG), a coordinated body of the international organizations, is working with the Rohingyas. As per the last reckoning of ISCG, by now, the number of Rohingyas available in the camps is 905,812. This number also includes 34,000 Rohingyas who came in 1991. Nobody knows as to where the remaining more than 2 lakhs Rohingyas have gone. However, all the government and non-government quarters are in conjecture that these Rohingyas are getting mingled in the localities. They are dispersing in various districts including three hill districts, Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong and Dhaka.

Ghundhum Union under Naikhyongchhari Upazila of Bandarban Hill District, is a hard-to-reach area attached to Myanmar border. This area is haunted by Rohingyas over the last 3 decades and they have already established settlements using various tactics. Now their aim is to become citizens of Bangladesh. Jahangir Aziz, Chairman of Ghundum Union Parishad, while called on, laid out innumerous NIDs of Bangladesh obtained by the Rohingyas. Informing the matter, he said that he had seized the cards from Rohingyas.

Rohingya men Hamid Hossain and Jahid Hossain got their National Identity (NID) cards done showing one Shamsul Alam, an inhabitant of Reju Amtali as their father. Shamsul Alam wondered with the incident informed that he has no sons by these names. When asked as to how they had become voters, the wondered Shamsul replied that their becoming voters was not comprehensible to him.

Nurul Islam, a resident of the same area, was outside the country for a long time. After coming back, he came to learn that one Rohingya named Hamid had collected his voter card mentioning him as the father. He also said that he has no son by name Hamid.

One Abdus Salam gave his daughter in marriage to a Rohingya youth. Hence, he had got citizenship done for his son-in-law projecting as his son. Whereas, being local public representative in the Hill District, he had done the irregularity.

The national identity card for any citizen is obtainable only subject to have undergone a process of approval in meetings of 14 administrative layers including the intelligence agencies. So, the question has arisen, who had been the people and how did they deceive they eyes of so many administrative levels in getting the cards done? The Election Officer Abu Jafar Saleh of Naikhyongchari Upazila said that they had sorted the attached documents in the meeting of special committee. They had taken interview from the applicant voters and also heard opinion of the public representatives.

In last July 2020, having identified 13 Rohingyas who had collected NIDs, the Election Commission ordered to cancel those identity cards. But to utter surprise, even after having been identified, the NID of one Rohingya named Ayubul Haque is still being found lying with the Server.

When asked, the Upazila Election Officer Abu Saleh replied that since he came to learn of non-cancellation of the ID as yet, he would report to his higher up about the matter.

The actual figure of how many IDs have been lying with the Rohingyas, has not yet been known. Whereas, strict government rules and guidelines on preparation of NIDs to prevent the Rohingyas’ entry, has remained standing as to this day. The inhabitants are to submit birth certificate, national IDs of parents, aunts/uncles, land documents, electricity bill or copy of any bill including the certificate from Headman or public representative. It is paradoxical that even after so much criterion, IDs are being passed to the hands of Rohingyas.

Ghundhum Union Parishad Chairman Jahangir Aziz informed that 400-500 Rohingyas have become voters in his union. There is a local syndicate, which is getting the Rohingyas obtained Bangladeshi citizenship by the might of money while deceiving the eyes of all. Also in this clique the included are: information collectors, persons assigned with sorting process, identifiers and even public representatives.

One Babul Kanti Chakma, a local UP member, belongs to the Syndicate. He had his signature in the Rohingyas’ voter application forms, as an officer entrusted with sorting of papers. He claimed that he had done it under pressure from the school teacher, Sirajul Hoque.

The other sorting officer is Abdul Gafur, a member of Ward No. 1. He also claimed that without having knowledge about the applicant, he had to sign at the request of the school teacher, Sirajul Hoque. He had also put his signature in the fake Birth Certificate of one local Village Police named Bodiur Rahman. Now, he says that he knows nothing about those matters.

All accusing fingers point at the school teacher Sirajul Hoque who was also member of the sorting unit. When he was called on, he was not available at his home in Ukhiya. Later on, he came to Cox’s Bazar Hotel to meet the reporter, with a local journalist in guise of his relative. Sirajul, instead, denied the government documents. The disguised journalist who came with Sirajul, actually had an attempt to slip the matter under carpet by immoral means.

After finding out 13 NIDs of Rohingya people, the Election Commission directed to search out the syndicate. It is rather very difficult to estimate the number of such syndicates. The locals say that if the persons linked to such syndicates have not been brought under the law, it will be impossible to prevent the Rohingyas’ becoming citizenship.

Barachara Para is a village under Sadar Union of Naikhyongchari in Bandarban hill district. Recently, one Jamal Uddin collected his birth certificate using this address. An inquiry has revealed that the said Jamal Uddin lives in Uttar Pradesh of India with family. He was sighted in political meetings and rallies there. Every one of his family members does also have Ration Cards in their own names. When the team went to Bandarban address, he was not available. But as per the local version, evidences were made available proving his living in India. Jamal Uddin is undergoing the process of receiving Bangladesh National Identity Card. Almost all those who are living in the border are collecting the NIDs in the same manner.

Rohingya woman, Jorina Begum lives in Adarsha Para village of Naikhyongchari. Though she is still alive, she owns her Death Certificate. Because, she does not have her NID and to make her daughter a citizen of Bangladesh, she has no alternative but to show her Death Certificate. In the same manner, this woman got her Death Certificate done in exchange of money to let her son obtain NID.

Rohingya Shah Alam and Rezwana Akhter got their Birth Certificates done at Ward No.1 of Islampur under Naikhyangchhari Sadar Union. But on going there, none of them was found in that area. Nobody even knows them in person. But both the Birth and Death Certificates contains signatures of the concerned public representatives and reasonable answers to the queries were available to none.

Those who mentioned their parents’ nationality as ‘Myanmar’, have also got Birth Certificates and numbers of this category are also many. The former Chairman of Naikhyongchari Union Parishad, Tofayel Ahmmed contended that he had signed in those birth and death certificates as per the government directives. It means that the Rohingyas are getting citizenship by various means and ways.

On the other hand, Bandarban and Cox’s Bazaar are the districts having international borderlines with Myanmar. In these Rohingya-inhabited areas, the Rohingyas are being legalized as Bangladeshi citizens by means of various forgeries and techniques – whose Birth Certificates, Death Certificates, land documents, etc. are all fake. But it is the public representatives of this region are showing the path to obtaining the citizenship.

Various reasons are existent behind making the Rohingyas citizens of Bangladesh. The public representatives say, offer of big amount always travels everywhere. Hence, some are getting involved in such anti-state activities. Jahangir Aziz, Chairman of Ghunddum Union, informed that he was offered Tk. 1.0 lakh only for registration and birth certificate.

On the other hand, Rasheda Begum, a UP member of Naikhyongchari Sadar Union informed that she was offered Tk. 30,000 for 6 persons average Tk. 5,000 each.

Even many Rohingyas have become public representatives of this region during the last three decades – information given by Tofayil Ahmmed, former Chairman of Naikhyongchari Upazila. He further informed that some are making the Rohingyas citizens to increase the followers in the election field to strengthen their political influence. Chairman of Naikhyongchari Sadar Union, Nurul Bashar, informed that there is life threatening, if there arises any disagreement to such offer. Faiz Ahmmed, a member of Naikhyongchhari Sadar Union, informed that the situation is so formidable that the local people do not get voter forms but the forms go to the hands of Rohingyas.

Mohammad Iqbal, former Chairman of Naikhyongchari Upazila, claimed that contradiction between the Jumma (hill) people and Bengali community also works in making voters in this region. The locals say, the time may arrive when the Jumma people will be obliged to stay under dominance of the Rohingya people.

This report is prepared in light of the reports of Jamuna TV, various news media and on-site investigation of Hill Voice.

Translated by the Hill Voice.

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