The actual name of Shamsunnahar’s husband is Jalal Uddin. Due to wrong input, her husband’s name was inscribed as ‘Halal Uddin’ in her national identity (NID) card. With necessary proofs, the Savar resident applied to the election commission for necessary correction at her NID on 10 October 2015.
Five years and four months have been passed, but Shamsunnahar is yet to receive a correct NID. She cannot open any bank account with the faulty NID.
Till January this year, at least 167,764 applications were submitted to the NID service wing for amendments, said officials. Moreover, 69,513 applications were left pending for categorisation. EC amends NIDs in four categories.
An investigation found that the server of the NID service wing didn’t preserve the application from Shamsunnahar of Savar.
Shamsunnahar submitted her application with the Savar unit of EC. She still preserves the receipt copy as proof. In the five years, the lady paid several visits to the Savar office to get updated. All of her efforts went in vain.
EC sources told that Shamsunnahar’s application might be lost before forwarding or was not recorded in the server because of negligence. And the incidences are not rare.
Another case can be mentioned here. Certain voter Khodeja Akter wrote her birth year 1992 during her NID registration. But the EC wrongfully recorded it as 1969. Khodeja is not provided with an amended NID card despite applied for it in 2017.
According to rules, EC, if satisfied with the proofs, is obliged to solve the issue within 30 days of application. The applicants must get informed shortly after rejection of their appeal.
While enquired, election commissioner retired brigadier general Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury told Prothom Alo that the number of pending applications, more than 150 thousand, is huge.
“Some people with vested interests may apply for NID amendment. That’s why the EC carefully scrutinises every application following the rules. There might be irregularities. We are trying to serve the applicants within the shortest possible time,” Shahadat said.
The NID wing deals with more than 110 million cardholders. There is a need of an institutional framework for NID management. Such a complicated task needs skilled manpower and advanced technologies. On the other hand, the NID wing is now outsourcing the necessary assistance.
Shahadat emphasised on reviewing any possibilities of amendment of the law.
Law minister Anisul Huq, in a reply to one lawmaker Mozaffar Ahmed during a parliamentary session on 24 February, termed most of the applications for NID amendments as ‘illogical’ and ‘unrealistic’. He said that it takes time to scrutinise the documents attached to the applications. He also said that some of the reports on NID-related news were not based on true ground.
The law minister cited some examples of irresponsible applicants who provided different information and proofs during NID registration and applying for amendments.
EC officials said applicants having actual attestations often suffer from delays in the amendment. Meanwhile, there are examples of quick amendments of NID based on forged documents or false statements. They said that people aspiring for social safety, land possession, or employment forge documents to get their NID amended.
Former election commissioner and retired brigadier general M Sakhawat Hossain suggested setting a separate board to solve the pending applications.
*This report appeared in Prothom Alo print and online edition, and has been rewritten in English by Sadiqur Rahman
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