From Tewari to Bilal: a question mark on NADRA

Published: February 16, 2020
PHOTO: Reuters

PHOTO: Reuters

LAHORE: An Indian national somehow got a Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC), raising questions on the performance of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).

Punjam Tewari is an Indian national who changed his name as Muhammad Bilal and succeeded in getting a CNIC after presenting a Muslim man and woman as his parents.

Tewari had been residing in Banaras in India and left for the UAE for livelihood. During his stay in the UAE, he met Kamran, a resident of Gujranwala. After some time, Tewari embraced Islam on the persuasion of Kamran and did not return to India. He reached Karachi through sea route, also with the help of Kamran. Under the plan, Kamran and his uncle Masood Ashraf reached the port city and took him to their house. Kamran, Sagheer and Dr Ramzan persuaded Masood Ashraf and Razia Bibi to pose as the parents of Bilal (the Indian national) and in connivance with NADRA officials, got a CNIC.

On suspicious activities, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Gujranwala constituted a raiding team and intercepted Bilal who failed to produce any documentary evidence to establish his citizenship in Pakistan. Bilal was arrested and taken to a police station.

Upon preliminary interrogation, he confessed that he was an Indian national and his name was Punjam Tewari son of Rajori Tewari, a resident of Bidapur District Mirzapur, Banaras. When the matter was thoroughly investigated, the accused Punjam Tewari revealed the whole story.

CNIC condition to come into effect from August

The FIA registered an FIR under sections 14 Foreign Act 1946, 30 NADRA Ordinance 2000, 420, 468, 471, 109 PPC read with section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1947 against the accused.

After that, the accused Punjam Tewari filed a plea for post-arrest bail in special judge court Gujranwala where the same was dismissed. The special judge passed an order on December 6, 2019 that “the accused petitioner is the main accused of the occurrence. Being a foreigner, he is not entitled to be released on bail as after the trial he was to be deported through the Foreign Office.

Muhammad Ramzan sought post-arrest bail from the Lahore High Court where Justice Shahzad Ahmad Khan granted the bail. The order stated that accused petitioner Rizwan has not prepared any fake document of Tewari alias Bilal who is a co-accused.

The accused is likely to file bail petition in LHC contending that he had been implicated in forged documents case despite he had nothing to do with the allegations levelled against him.

When contacted, a senior NADRA official, seeking anonymity, told The Express Tribune that he investigated the matter and found that the authority did not commit any violation in issuing the CNIC. He said all requirements such as Nikkah Nama, birth certificate and CNICs of the parents were attached with the duly attested form provided to the authority. However, he said the documents provided to them for the purpose of CNIC of the accused were genuine. He said it might be possible that the accused had given bribe in union council office for the preparation of his birth certificate.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2020.

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