Passports seized by Rab are only 'the tip of an iceberg'
The committee formed by Patuakhali deputy commissioner (DC) to probe the sensational 'passport forgery,' submitted its report to the DC on Sunday.
According to the three-page report, five times more passports were issued in the last six months, from January to June in 2011, compared to police verification reports submitted during the period.
The passport office here issued 10,140 passports in the aforesaid time while Detective Security Branch (DSB) of police sent clearance (verification) for only 2,300.
The report also said that 2,054 passports were issued in 20 days, from July 1 to 20, while DSB sent only 225 clearance reports.
So far 12,194 passports were issued in six months and 20 days, from January 1 to July 20, this year whereas only 1,799 passports issued in seven months from January to July in 2010.
According to the probe report, an identified gang delivered passports to people residing outside Patuakhali and Baguna districts. They did it by changing photos on old passports and removing original names and addresses from it.
Meanwhile, another probe committee formed by the Department of Information and Passport yesterday concluded its investigation into the seizure of 350 fake passports and 344 fake forms by Rab from the Patuakhali passport office on Thursday.
Mohammad Toufiqul Islam Khan, deputy director of the department, also the head of the one-member probe committee, yesterday said he seized various papers and articles for examination.
The team is likely to submit its report by August 5, he said.
Earlier, three passport office staff and five brokers were arrested on Thursday evening.
The arrestees include Shahjahan Howlader, assistant director of Patuakhali passport office, its office assistant Abul Hossain and MLSS Wahiduzzaman.
Shahjahan Howlader has already been suspended for his alleged involvement in issuing fake passport.
"Keeping the passport office under observation for long, Rab found that a section of brokers with the help of some officials were preparing and delivering golakata (fake) passports to people including pilgrims in exchange of huge money. Criminals and war criminals can use such fake passports to leave the country," said Nuruzzaman, company commander of Rab-8 in Patuakhali, who conducted Thursday's raid on the passport office.