DHAKA: A Bangladeshi MP accused of sending proxy candidates to take her place in a public exam may lose her seat if found guilty of cheating and face criminal charges, officials told Arab News on Tuesday.
It is alleged that Tamanna Nusrat, who was studying for a bachelor’s degree at Bangladesh Open University (BOU), sent lookalikes at least 13 times to the exam hall on her behalf.
A four-member investigation team at the university is probing the matter.
Her alleged deception came to light when a local TV station entered the exam hall and confronted one of the lookalikes during the exam. The clip went viral on social media.
Nusrat, who is from the ruling Awami League party and holds one of 50 parliamentary seats reserved for women, was unavailable for comment when contacted by Arab News.
“We have already cancelled the enrolment of the alleged candidate as she committed a crime and she has been permanently expelled from the university,” Prof. M. A. Mannan, BOU vice chancellor, told Arab News.
“Our committee visited the examination centre on Tuesday. We are trying to find out how it happened repeatedly ... if Nusrat is found guilty we will file a criminal case against her.”
He said the principal of the college, who was in charge of the exam hall, could not evade responsibility.
“If necessary we will go for stern action against the college principal also as it has tarnished the good will of our university.”
But locals said they were aware of the Nusrat lookalikes.
“I have information from my cousin who was also in the exam at the same hall,” one resident told Arab News. “Although I shared the information with my close associates, we couldn’t do anything against these irregularities as it involves a member of Parliament who is holding much influence.”
The Awami League has come down hard on the lookalike allegations, with Deputy Minister of Education Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury saying “no mercy” would be shown.
“Our party will not take any responsibility for any misdeeds or crime committed by the individual or party members,” he told Arab News. “I have asked the university management to run the enquiry independently without any fear and if she is found guilty the university authorities will file a criminal case in this regard.”
He added: “Cheating in public exams is a criminal offense according to the law of the country. If she is convicted by the court eventually she will lose her membership in Parliament.”
Women’s participation in Bangladesh politics is still low, even though the ruling party and opposition are led by women. The total number of women currently in Parliament is 72.
Prime Minister and Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina has led the country four times, while arch-rival Khaleda Zia has been prime minister three times.