Josna Begum received her machine readable passport (MRP) yesterday after going through troubles for eight months due to another woman who forged her name and other information and got an MRP in 2014.
The Munshiganj passport office handed the MRP to the migrant worker who returned home from Jordan in October last year. She worked there as a housemaid for two years.
In December last year, Josna completed the necessary procedure for an MRP. When she went to collect her digital passport from the Munshiganj office, she came to know about the fraudulence.
For the last eight months, whenever she had gone there, officials told her to contact the Dhaka office.
Receiving her new passport, she said, “I am very happy. I can now go abroad again for work,”
She had been facing troubles because a fake Josna got an MRP bearing Josna’s hand-written passport’s number on January 29, 2014 from the head office — Department of Passport and Immigration (DIP) in the capital’s Agargaon.
As The Daily Star dug deeper into the story, it found a syndicate of brokers, recruiting agents and a section of officials at passport offices across the country involved in such forgery, which takes place quite often.
In Josna’s case, it was seen that a group of brokers and officials at the DIP forged the data of her hand-written passport. All her information was then copied onto the MRP of the fake Josna.
A report on the forgery titled “Two passports, one number” was published in The Daily Star on August 15.
The DIP last year during an internal probe found that a syndicate had issued at least 170 official passports to civilians between November 2014 and April 2015. The authorities then suspended a director, an assistant director and two employees for their involvement in the scam.
Last month, the Anti-Corruption Commission arrested two suspended officials of the DIP for issuing official passports to private citizens.
Halima Khatun, assistant director at the Munshiganj office, told The Daily Star that it gave the MRP to Josna as the DIP already cancelled the passport given to the fake Josna last June.
“The process took long because we had to verify the authenticity of the information of both the passports by the police. Our head office found that the earlier one was fake owner. So, they cancelled her passport and issued the new one for Josna.”