Rohingyas with green passports
The overseas travel of Rohingyas using fake Bangladeshi passports has become a serious concern for authorities.
Going abroad, they commit different types of crime tarnishing the image of Bangladesh. The problem is unchallenged for long.
In June, the issue again came to the fore as several hundred Rohingyas fleeing sectarian violence in Myanmar tried to intrude into Bangladesh through the bordering area of Cox's Bazar.
The government high-ups have also expressed their concern about it and asked authorities concerned to stay alert.
Yesterday, the Armed Police Battalion (APBn) at Shahjalal International Airport arrested seven Rohingyas trying to depart through the airport using Bangladeshi passports.
One of them managed a Machine-Readable Passport (MRP), while others got forged ones -- passport books recently stolen from a Dhaka passport office, police say.
Last month, the foreign ministry has asked the deputy commissioners, especially of Cox's Bazar and Bandarban, to ensure that no Rohingya gets Bangladeshi passport.
“Earlier, many Rohingyas had managed voter IDs and Bangladeshi passports. They went abroad and created huge problems in Saudi Arabia. So we have asked the local administration for double-check,” Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes told journalists on July 11.
But the dubious attempts continue. Authorities and this correspondent found such incidents at Shahjalal International Airport recently.
One of the seven arrested yesterday, Ayasha Begum, 30, managed an MRP issued on June 27.
Police arrested her at the airport along with her two daughters Ruksana Khatun, 10, and Irmana Khatun, 8.
A 16-year-old youth named Zaber also tried to sneak in the airport posing as Ayesha's son. They were arrested around 7:30am soon after entering the departure lounge.
Their destination was Saudi Arabia via Kuwait on a Kuwait Airways flight, APBn Assistant Commissioner Monirul Islam told The Daily Star.
In a separate drive, the APBn members arrested three other Rohingyas -- Md Bashar, 18, Md Selim, 18 and Azizul Haq, 19 -- with three Bangladeshi nationals.
They were supposed to board a Cambodia-bound flight. The Rohingyas came from Ukhiya of Cox's Bazar, but it could not be known if they were registered refugees.
Police said the Rohingyas along with two Bangladeshi nationals -- Md Sujan Mia, 19 and Md Alamgir Hossain, 35 and their broker Md Kaiser, 20, arrived at the airport on a microbus around 12:30am.
On suspicion, the on-duty APBn personnel interrogated them and later found the fake passports after searching their bodies.
The Rohingyas told them that Kaiser had managed the passports by using fake names, photos and addresses. They said the broker and his associates took Tk 2 lakh to Tk 3 lakh from each of them for sending them abroad.
The broker had asked them to come to the airport at 1:00am with the passports.
The broker instructed them to tell the names and addresses put on the passports if security personnel interrogate.
Sujan and Alamgir were supposed to fly to Kuwait.
Separate cases were filed against them with the Airport Police Station.
On September 11 last year, police at the airport arrested six Rohingyas along with a Bangladeshi trying to board a flight to Saudi Arabia. The group was carrying forged Bangladeshi passports.
Detectives on August 2 raided a residential hotel at Fakirapool in the capital and arrested nine Rohingyas for their illegal stay and efforts to manage Bangladeshi passports to fly to the Middle East.
Also, the Saudi Arabian authorities have arrested around 700 Rohingyas travelling with Bangladeshi documents and kept them in a deportation centre in Jeddah, according to officials and experts.
The Saudis are now pressing Bangladesh to take them back.
This trend of Rohingyas going abroad is also threatening the country's labour market overseas.
Presently around 30,000 registered Rohingya refugees live in two camps in Teknaf upazila in Cox's Bazar.
But roughly about half a million Rohingya intruders unofficially live in Cox's Bazar and other areas of Chittagong region.