In 2010, the EC had prevented at least 50,000 Rohingyas from getting enrolled in the voters list in these three districts where these refugees from Myanmar mostly live.
The EC identified the 13 bordering upazilas as “sensitive” and planned detailed scrutiny for updating the voters list to prevent the Rohingya refugees from getting registered as voters.
Nearly half a million Rohingyas entered Bangladesh as refugees in two phases – 1978-79 and 1992-92 – after Myanmar’s military junta started persecution following a 1982 law that denied them citizenship.
Many Rohingyas are again trying to enter Bangladesh after ethnic riots rocked Myanmar’s Rakhine (former Arakan) province in 2012.
The EC on Jan 2 this year published a draft list of updated voters along with photographs of the voters. There were nearly 92.2 million voters in the draft voter list — seven million of them newly enlisted because they were eligible.
People willing to correct their particulars provided during the registration have time until Jan 17. If anyone is left out the list, or have any objection about anyone, he or she may apply to the concerned upazila election office by the Jan 17 deadline for correction or enrolment.
The final updated voter lists would be published on Jan 31.
Ahead of the next parliamentary elections, the EC began collecting information on new voters to update the voter list in the three Chittagong hill tracts districts, like other places of the country, on Mar 10 last year. The process was completed on Dec 15.
During the updating, the Special Committee of the EC sought at least 15 categories of information (on parents, grandparents, properties etc.) apart from cross-checking the information on the eligible voters in the frontier upazilas.
Before the voter list updates, the committee directed the enumerators to take final decision after intensive scrutiny of all the eligible voters of seven upazilas of Cox’s Bazar distrist ( Sadar, Chakaria, Teknaf, Ramu, Pekua, Ukhiya and Moheshkhali), four upazilas of Bandarban district ( Sadar, Alikadam, Lama and Nikhongchhari) and two upazilas of Rangamati (Bilaichhari and Kaptai).
The committees verified the lists with reports of the detective branches.
Most of the rejections are reported from Cox’s Bazar district.
“Some 15,000-16,000 applications were rejected after collecting information for the voter list update, and scrutiny by the Special Committee. They’ve been put out of the voter list for insufficient evidence of citizenship,” District election officer Nurul Hasan told bdnews24.com.
He, however, said that no action was taken against those whose application for enrolment as voters had been rejected.
“Many tried to be enlisted as voter by providing fake information, but they were later dropped during the scrutiny by the local public representatives, the law enforcing agencies and the Special Committee,” Nurul Hassan said.
“There’s a nine percent increase in voters here. It would have been better had we got more time for scrutiny of the application forms of the seven upazilas of the bordering district,” he said.
Hasan said that they received at least 300 new application forms after publishing the draft list of updated voters.
Bandarban district election officer Abdul Latif Sheikh said that some 1,000 applications were rejected in the four upazilas of the district.
In Rangamati, only 11 applications were rejected in the two ‘sensitive’ upazilas, district election officer Nazim Uddin said. “There’s no infiltration of Rohingya refugees in the district.”
Bangladesh foreign minister Dipu Moni had told UNHCR representative Raymond Hall in September 2009 that more than 400,000 unregistered Rohingyas refugees continued to live in Bangladesh alongside the few who lived as registered refugees in the two refugee camps.
She has said that the Rohingyas were burden on an overpopulated and poor country like Bangladesh.bdnews24.com