Two syndicates providing forged national identity cards to Rohingyas are mainly run by two families, and their members hold different posts at the Election Commission offices in Dhaka, Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar, said ACC investigators.
Taking huge sums from Rohingyas, the syndicates -- each comprising 10 to 20 members -- enter the EC database and make dubious entries to the NID server.
They use official laptops for committing the crime, the investigators said, adding that the practice has been in place for long.
The investigators could not give the exact number of the NID cards handed over to Rohingyas who would use them to have passports. They said they were working to trace all the members of the syndicates.
With the help of one of the syndicates, a listed Rohingya criminal, Nur Mohammad, managed to secure an NID card in 2016 under the name of Nur Alam, the investigators said.
Nur was killed in an alleged gunfight with police in Teknaf earlier this year.
Anti-Corruption Commission sources said based on an ACC investigation, EC officials traced of one of the syndicates recently and arrested three of its members on Monday.
A laptop, believed to have been stolen from the EC, was also recovered from their possession, the sources said.
The arrestees included Joynal Abedin, an office assistant of Double Mooring Thana Election Office under the EC office in Chattogram.
On Tuesday, Double Mooring Thana Election Officer Pallabi Chakma filed a case against five people, including the three arrestees, with Kotwali Police Station under the Digital Security Act.
ACC Deputy Assistant Director (DAD) Md Sharif Uddin said based on information gleaned from Joynal, they came to know that the arrestee used to head one of the syndicates while the other nexus was led by a technical expert at the EC office in Dhaka.
The five accused included Dhaka-based data entry operators Sagor and Satya Sundar Dey. They were on the run till last night, said investigators.
EC investigators said Joynal and his syndicate helped at least 67 Rohingyas get forged NID cards since January last year. They used to charge Tk 50,000 to Tk 60,000 for each forged NID card.
A laptop has been missing for a couple of years and ACC officials discovered the matter during a visit to the EC office in Chattogram on Saturday.
ACC and EC office sources said Joynal created his syndicate with the help of Sagor and Satya. Joynal’s brother-in-law, an office assistant at the EC office in Chattogram, is also part of the ring, said the sources.
The brother-in-law used to maintain contact with Rohingya brokers in Cox’s Bazar and bring “clients” to Joynal, they said.
EC officials said as punishment for his corruption, Joynal was transferred to other EC offices several times in the past. He, however, “somehow” managed to get back to the workplace every time.
EC sources said two of Joynal’s relatives were posted to the Election Commission’s offices in Dhaka and Rangamati.
Investigators were working to gather evidence against the suspects, said ACC sources.
Talking about the other syndicate led by the technical expert, ACC investigators said the brother of the ringleader works at the Double Mooring Thana EC Office while the leader’s nephew is a computer operator in Banshkhali.
A cousin of the ring leader is a staffer at the Cox’s Bazar Sadar EC office while his sister is a data entry operator at Panchlaish Thana EC office, said the investigators.
Two other cousins of the ringleader work as data entry operator at Boalkhali Upazila EC office.
The syndicate employs 10 to 15 others for outsourcing, the investigators said.
ACC DAD Sharif said, “We’ve sent a report containing our findings to our headquarters in Dhaka for the next course of action.”.
He said they would look into the wealth and bank statements of the alleged syndicate members.
ACC officials said they were confirmed that Nur got his NID card after fake information was uploaded to the NID server using an EC laptop with code number 4391.
ACC sources said Nur’s application mentioned his permanent address the port city’s Panchlaish area.
Investigators were not sure whether the missing laptop and the one recovered on Monday were the same.
THREE ON REMAND
Yesterday, a Chattogram court placed three arrestees, including Joynal, on remand in the case filed over the NID scam.
Metropolitan Magistrate Mehnaz Rahman put Joynal on three-day remand while the other two arrestees -- Bijoy Das, 23, a driver, and his sister Sima Das alias Sumaiya Jahan, 26, -- were placed on one-day remand each.