300 passports, 51 NIDs for Rohingyas cancelled

At least 300 passport applications and 51 National Identity Cards (NIDs) have been canceled or suspended in Cox’s Bazaar and Chattogram districts in the last one year as those were processed by Rohingya people. Recently, several Rohingyas have been arrested on allegation of their attempt to collect Passport using fake name and address at different areas of Chattogram and Cox's Bazaar districts.

At present the Department of Immigration and Passport, the Election Commission and relevant offices are on high alert to stop the Rohingyas from collecting passport or being registered with the electoral roll. The Rohingyas ousted from their homeland Myanmar, staying in Bangladesh for quite a long time, are trying to get registered with the voter list and travel abroad by collecting NID cards and passports here. The trend has increased since 2017 after the arrival of more than one million ousted Rohingyas in Coxs Bazaar district from Myanmar.

Abu Nayem Masum, Asstistant Director of the Department of Immigration and Passport at Coxs Bazaar office told Bangladesh Post, “Since August 2017, around three hundred Rohingyas submitted applications for passport. Those applications were suspended after scrutinizing those. We were confirmed that those applications were submitted by Rohingays.”

“When we call them for interview they didn’t appear,” He said adding, “Those applications were detected by their fingerprints that were collected during Rohingya registration by the Passport Department soon after their influx began in 2017”. In 2017, registration of around 1.15 lakh Rohingyas was completed in data base with their finger print.

“Before issuing a passport at Coxs Bazar, the police report, local public representative's testimonial and NID card is checked. The suspicious applications are examined with Rohingya data base and in various other ways,” said Abu Nayem Masum. The Chattogram Divisional Election Commission office sources said 51 NID cards were canceled because of suspicious name and address with them.

Muhammad Hasanuzzaman, Divisional Election Officer, Chattogram, told Bangladesh Post that various investigations are underway on allegation of Rohingyas’ registration with the voter list. The Election Commission has declared 32 upazilas, that is, all eight under Cox’s Bazaar, all seven under Bandarban, eight upazilas (except Nanniarchar and Kaukhali upazilas) of Rangamti, and seven upazilas of Chattogram district, as special zones to stop Rohingyas from being registered with the electoral roll.

According to EC sources, although stringent measures have been taken to halt any attempt by Rohingyas to get enlisted as voters, local public representatives are helping them in this regard. Earlier, it was detected that at least 243 Rohingyas have been enlisted as voters with the help of local public representatives in the Chattogram region, including Chattogram city, Chattogram district, Cox’s Bazar, Rangamati and Bandarban districts.

A letter, signed by Arafat Ara, assistant commissioner (research & development) of the EC, National Identity Registration Wing, on 15 June 2018 was sent to the Chattogram regional EC office. The letter says, “A voter list of 1,772 people was received from the Statistics and Information Department of the Ministry of Planning. As per their statement, these voters are citizens of Myanmar and belong to the Rohingya community. After scrutinizing the voter list by the EC, information about 243 was found to be correct.”