The Election Commission (EC) has taken up the ambitious plan to offer National Identity Card (NID) to all citizens above 6 years age. In this connection EC plans to collect information of all school and college-going students in the country. If this plan works out, valuable information will be collected about all Bangladeshi nationals aged between 6 and 18 years.
As soon as these people turn 18 years of age, they will be automatically enlisted in the voter list. According to EC’s plan, information will be collected from the district-level educational institutions in the first phase, while in the second phase, information will be collected at the ward level in cities and union level in rural areas.
The EC expects that it can collect details on around 3.25 crore citizens through this programme. The commission will then be able to amass information about 85 percent of the country’s total population in a single database. According to media reports, the Subdivision for Nation Identity Registration has already prepared a draft proposal in this regard.
High officials concerned told media that the commission has by now decided to collect information about all citizens aged between 10 and 18 years of age and that it is planning to bring changes to this decision to collect information about all citizens above six years of age. Proposal has been made to register everyone who will turn six years old by January 1 in the current year. The proposal is expected to be placed before the cabinet soon, they noted.
Moreover, they said, once this programme is executed, the EC has also a plan to collect information about everyone from zero to six years of age to bring all of the country’s citizens under the national database. This will make sure that every citizen of the country has a specific national identity number. Mentionable, in this year’s voter list updating programme information is being collected about all citizens aged above 15 years of age and those aged 18 years or above are being enlisted as voters and being provided NID.
Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) Shahadat Hossain told media that the commission in its database already has information about all citizens above 18 years of age and that a decision has been taken to collect information about citizens aged between 10 and 18 years. The commission is yet to decide about the ones aged above six years but below 10 years, he said.
Once information about the ones aged below 18 years is collected, the commission will provide them with NID, if the government wants, he added. About the information collection method, Brig Shahadat said the commission will collect data based on educational institutions, which will make sure that there is no incongruity in terms of the names of the citizens, the names of their parents and other details. The EC will collect information about those out of education in some other ways, he mentioned.
According to EC officials, the programme is being taken targeting the school-goers, as children aged six years normally get admitted in a primary school. The programme is going to be named ‘6+ Citizen Registration Programme’, they said, adding the programme will take four years to be completed. Teachers will be given the task of collecting information, they mentioned.
As it is stated in the draft proposal, pilot projects will be adopted at first. If the pilot projects are successful, registration programme will be conducted simultaneously at 64 upazilas in 64 districts. Programmes will be conducted at ward and union levels to collect information about those who do not go to educational institutions.
The porgramme will be expanded gradually to every upazila and thana (PS) in the country. Those who will be left out even after that will be able to register their information at their respective upazila or thana election office all the year round, the draft says. During the registration process, citizens will have to submit their birth registration certificate, photocopies of the NID cards of their parents and certificates of PEC/Ebtedayee completion, or JSC exams in applicable cases.
And those who do not go to educational institutions will have to submit their birth certificates and copies of their parents’ NID cards. In order to make sure that no Rohingya or Indian child can enter the registration process areas where Rohingyas and Indian national live can be declared as ‘special zones’, the commission in the draft proposal said. Special form and special committee can be made for those areas. The committee will register the true Bangladeshi nationals after scrutinising the details provided by the applicants.