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18 September, 2019 12:24:40 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 18 September, 2019 03:01:00 PM

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‘Non-payment of bribes’ stalls police verification

Application for new passports, renewal
DEEPAK ACHARJEE, Dhaka
‘Non-payment of bribes’ stalls police verification

Mohammed Khurshed Alam Idris, an expatriate Bangladeshi in the UK, had completed his passport enrolment (No. GBR 200000011121 dated: 18-10-2018) at the Bangladeshi embassy in London to get a machine readable passport (MRP) by November 22, 2018.

But Idris, who hails from Hathazari in Chattogram, is yet to get the passport till date due to non-completion of the police verification report for the past nine months.

After a long wait, Idris wrote to the secretary of the home ministry’s Public Security Division on May 24, 2019 through the Bangladeshi embassy, requesting it to take steps to complete the police verification report for getting the MRP.

In the letter, Idris complained that a sub-inspector (SI) of Hathazari police station, Asaduzzaman Sheikh, was yet to provide the police verification report as he had refused to pay a bribe of Tk 20,000 demanded by the SI.

“After the passport enrolment, I had visited my home town Hathazari and then SI Asaduzzaman came to see me and family for passport verification. He asked me to show all the related documents, which I did. But he wasn’t satisfied. He then demanded a bribe of Tk. 20,000, but I refused. However, my family members gave him Tk 2,000 in cash just to get the verification approval,” the letter mentioned.

“Since my return to UK, SI Sheikh phoned my brother and asked him to submit/bring all of the documents again and take it to Hathazari police station as all the previous documents given to him were lost. When my brother went to the police station with all the documents, the SI refused to accept the documents unless my brother gave him Tk. 6,000 more in cash,” the letter added.

“My brother refused to give in to his demand and instead paid him Tk. 500. But SI Asaduzzaman remained adamant against giving the passport verification report. My passport verification is still pending due to non-payment of bribe to the SI,” it stated.

The letter was forwarded by the first secretary of the passport and visa wing of Bangladesh assistant high commissioner in Birmingham, UK, Mohammad Rezaul Karim, and then sent to the secretary of the Public Service Division in Bangladesh on May 28. The ministry received the letter on July 25.

The first secretary, Rezaul Karim, has urged the secretary of the home ministry

to take necessary steps to complete the police verification of Idris and take action against the police officer for his illegal approach. When contacted, the SI claimed that he did not know any Mohammed Khurshed Alam Idris.“I never went to the house of Idris and demanded bribe,” he claimed.

Similarly, another Bangladeshi expatriate, Mohammad Nurul Haque, also enrolled for getting a passport (No. GBR 200000011989, date 13-03-2019). But he is yet to get it due to not getting the requisite police clearance. His home town address is Mondoli, Vogh, Chhatak under Sunamganj district.

A senior official of the Public Security Division said they had received complaints that police officers were demanding bribes from passport applicants for approving their police verifications.

“We have forwarded the complaints to the Special Branch (SB) of police to inquire into the matter. If the complaints are proved to be true, then the police officials involved would be punished,” he added.

It is also alleged that a section of police officers especially sub-inspectors and assistant sub-inspectors of Special Branch of police were demanding bribe to the applicants for approving police verification to issue new passport.

Sources in the passport department said that a large number of people intending to travel abroad for employment or for medical treatment, are facing serious inconvenience due to delay in getting passports in the name of lengthy process of police verification.

As a result, a large number of people are waiting to join their overseas jobs.  

On average, 20,000 applications for passports are filed at the DIP’s 76 offices across the country every day. Of them, about 12,000 applications are for new passports and the authorities send those applications to SB for police verification report within 21 days.

But, in many cases, the SB authorities fail to submit the reports within the stipulated 21 days, according to the sources.

Talking to The Independent, a high official of the DIP claimed that they do not get at least 50 per cent of the police verification report within the stipulated time of 21 days.

“Previously, we would receive 2,800 police verification reports on average a day in our Dhaka office, but now it has come down to 1,400 to 1,500 a day,” he said.

“After receiving applications from the applicants, we send those to SB completing the verification and submit the report by 21 days, but most the cases they (SB) are failing to submit the report within the timeframe,” he added.

“Few years ago, we can issue passport without police verification if we are not getting police verification report within 21 days. But, we can’t do this as the authorities directed us to not issue passport without getting police verification report due to ongoing Rohingya crisis,” the official informed.

When contacted, Deputy Inspector General (immigration and passport verification) of Special Branch of Police G. M. Azizur Rahman has said that their inquiry officers submitting the police verification report within the timeline 21 days through online service.

“We are yet to receive any complain from the passport applicants that they were not getting police verification report in time or anyone from the SB demanding bribe to anybody officially,” he said.

Everyday new passport seekers are thronging various passport offices in districts and regional offices, even in the capital, in search of their passports to their promise land.

But they are going back home frustrated, without knowing when they would get the little book from the authorities concerned, sources informed.

MK

 

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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