Apu Sarker’s family seems to be afflicted by a rare genetic disorder as the men in his family cannot register their fingerprints.
The men in the Sarkar family suffer from a rare condition called Adermatoglyphia that characterizes flat finger pads and a reduced number of sweat glands in the hands.
The condition came to be widely known in 2007 after Swiss dermatologists, Peter Itin and Eli Sprecher along with a graduate student, Janna Nousbeck found a woman and eight of her family members without fingerprints.
The team in 2011 finally discovered that the gene SMARCAD1 was mutated in the nine family members, who could not register their fingerprints.
The mutation caused no other effects on the human body except for those on the hands.
This condition affects only very few families globally.
The 22-year-old Apu resides with his family in a village in Rajshahi district in Bangladesh.
The young medical assistant’s father, Amal Sarker had a tough time obtaining a national identity card.
In absence of fingerprints, perplexed officials issued an ID card with “NO FINGERPRINT” stamped on it.
The Bangladesh government, however, issued the father-son duo with new national identity cards that uses other biometric data like facial recognition and retina scan.
Amal, who is a farmer could obtain his passport only after producing a certificate issued by a medical board mentioning the rare condition he suffers from.
He has never used the document to date fearing problems in the airport.
Similarly, he could not obtain a driving licence in absence of fingerprints even though he had paid the fees and also passed the driving test.
“I paid the fee and passed the exam, but did not get a licence because I couldn’t provide a fingerprint,” a report quoted Amal as saying.
Although Amal carries the licence fee payment receipt, it has not deterred the police from fining him twice for not possessing a driving licence.
“I held up my hand to show the police officers my smooth fingertips, but they refused to believe me. This was so embarrassing,” he further said.
“The problem in my hands is something I inherited, but the manner in which I and my sons get in different problems is really very painful,” he said.
In 2016, when the Bangladesh government made it mandatory for a person to match his fingerprint with the national database in order to purchase a mobile sim card, all the male members of the Sarker family had to use sims issued in the name of Amal’s wife.
“Every time I put my finger on the sensor for registering my fingerprint, it kept freezing and I could not buy a mobile sim,” said Apu.
It took two years for Apu’s uncle and Amal’s brother Gopesh Sarker to obtain a passport because of this genetic disorder afflicting the family.
Gopesh had to travel to Dhaka four to five times just to convince the passport authorities that he suffered from the rare disorder.
Moreover, Gopesh still has to sign the attendance sheet every day despite his office being equipped with a fingerprint attendance system.
A dermatologist in Bangladesh diagnosed the family’s condition as congenital palmoplantar keratoderma characterized by dry skin and reduced sweating on palms and feet.
Meanwhile, Professor Sprecher said that more testing would be required to ascertain that the family has some form of Adermatoglyphia.