Joynal Abedin is building his second home – a five-storey building on a 7 decimal land – at South Askoria of Banshkhali, Chattogram.
The construction began six months ago and the progress is remarkably visible with four storeys having completed already. The building looks quite luxurious compared to other establishments in the area.
Joynal is an office assistant at the Chattogram Election Commission office.
His old home is a mud hut with just three rooms.
Locals said Joynal had also bought another 7 decimal land in the name of his younger brother Jasim Uddin at Tk35 lakh just 100 yards north of his new home.
On September 16, police arrested Joynal, 35, along with two cohorts, for allegedly helping Rohingyas to get Bangladeshi National Identity Cards (NID) in Chattogram.
The Counter Terrorism Transnational Crime unit of Chattogram Metropolitan Police is now investigating the allegations.
Joynal's mother Dilara Begum claimed that the building was not being constructed with illegal money. "My another son, who lives abroad, and I have share here," she told The Business Standard.
"It is a conspiracy against my son. He is innocent," she said.
Everything changed in two years
Joynal's father Abdul Monaf was a fisherman and could hardly earn bread for his family. He also could not educate their children due to poverty.
Joynal, the eldest one among his four siblings, studied up to class eight and got the job at the Election Commission through a maternal uncle in 2004.
Joynal was struggling with his regular income, said his neighbours.
But the situation changed after the Rohingya influx in 2017 – Joynal's family became affluent overnight.
The first remarkable change was noticed in that year when he bought two pieces of land at Tk60 lakh in Chattogram.
Then he started the construction of the building, said Nur Hossain, a local resident at Jaldhi of Banshkhali upazila.
The neighbours raised their eyebrows when Joynal bought a cow at Tk190,000 to sacrifice this Eid-ul-Adha and his parents performed Hajj recently, said another neighbour, requesting anonymity.
Joynal started helping Rohingyas to get Bangladeshi NIDs charging from Tk40,000 to Tk80,000.
He used to make the NIDs on laptops, which had gone missing from the Chattogram Election Commission office.
The commission could not provide any clear answer about the missing laptops.
Though Joynal had started his job in Rangamati, he was later transferred to the Chattogram office in 2016.
In 2013, he was found guilty of forging NIDs and a departmental case was lodged against him. His increments were suspended for three years as punishment, said Election Commission office sources.
However, Chattogram Election Officer Monir Hussain said Joynal was arrested for helping Rohingyas to get NID cards and he was not aware of the earlier incidents.
How Joynal helped Rohingyas to get NIDs?
On weekends, Joynal used to collect data of Rohingyas from his sources. He would bring cameras, fingerprint scanner and other equipment to his home from the Election Commission office, police said.
Rohingya people used to come to Joynal's residence and provide necessary documents for making the NID cards.
After completing the work here, he sent the data to a person named Sagor who works at the NID department of the commission's Dhaka office.
Sagor along with his cohorts uploaded the information to the server and printed the NIDs. Then the NIDs were sent to Joynal through courier service.
The driver of the Double Mooring Election Office named Bijoy Das, 23, and his sister Sima Das alias Sumaiya Jahan, and another person named Satya Sundar Dey used to distribute the NIDs among the Rohingyas, according to law enforcers.
The group also earned money by taking contracts of correcting NIDs and making new ones for those who have lost theirs.
Mohammad Mohsin, officer-in-charge of Chattogram Kotwali police station, said Joynal Abedin, Bijoy Das, and Sima Das confessed to their involvement in the crime.
"We are looking for Sagor, and Satya Sundar Dey. The duo worked in a project of the commission in Dhaka in 2012," he added.
Is it a family ring?
Joynal's brother-in-law and cousins are also working in different election offices, according to different sources.
According to local sources, Joynal's cousin Mohammad Mozaffor, who is also an office assistant at the Cox's Bazar Sadar election office, might be another mastermind of this syndicate. He might have collected data of Rohingyas and sent them to Joynal as he is also building a new home, said the Chattogram anti-graft watchdog and local sources.
Joynal's brother-in-law Nur Ahmed also works in the same post at the Chattogram Election Commission.
Another cousin named Mohammad Aminullah works at Boalkhali upazila election office while yet another, Mohammad Ali, at the Rangamati district office.
Sources at the Anti-Corruption Commission said they were investigating whether these cousins and brother-in-law were working together as a ring.
The Cox's Bazar election office found 600 Rohingyas on the voter list. Election Officer Shimul Sharma filed a case on September 13 against the Rohingyas for providing false information to become voters.
Officials unware of laptops going missing
At least six laptops went missing from the Chattogram Election Commission office. However, commission official Monir Hossain could not confirm how many laptops had been missing from his office and the upazila offices. He was aware of only two incidents but yet did not take any remarkable measures.
Seven laptops were sent to Mirsarai upazila election office on October 21, 2015. One of the laptops went missing after the voter list updating work was completed. The incident came to light in 2016. The laptop is yet to be found.
The Panchlaish election office lost one of its laptops in 2015. The office neither filed any general diary nor blocked access to the commission's server from the missing laptop.
"The missing laptop from Panclaish office was used for uploading data of 2,000-2,500 Rohingyas to the commission's NID server," said Sharif Uddin, assistant commissioner of Chattogram Anti-Corruption Commission.
According to the commission, at least six officials in Chattogram and one in Dhaka are involved in helping Rohingyas to get NIDs.
Monir Hossain said, "We are still not confirmed about the number of the missing laptops but investigating how many laptops went missing."
Earlier he had told The Business Standard that three laptops had gone missing and Joynal was arrested with one of them.
During updating the voter list in 2012, four more laptops went missing. The Election Commission filed a case against people related to technical support and proof reading. The laptops could not be recovered yet.
Asked why they did not change the passwords of those laptops so that no one can log in to the Election Commission server from those computers, Monir said, "Anyone can change the passwords if they get the laptops."
But he could not answer why they did not block the missing laptops permanently.