Wednesday, 18 May, 2022

No respite from abduction of fishermen in Bay

Anwar Hossain was among the 17 fishermen abducted by robbers in the Bay of Bengal on January 15 while they were catching fish in a fishing boat ‘SB Saiful-3’.

After abduction, the victims were cruelly tortured, leaving Anwar seriously injured. As he was groaning due to the injuries, the criminals threw him in the sea. It is yet to be known what happened to the fate of Anwar though 16 fishermen got released paying ransom.

The menace of the dacoits has resumed in the Bay of Bengal and the coastal areas over the last two years. Such criminal activities remained almost stopped after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina declared dacoit-free Sundarbans in November 2018.

About 200 fishermen in Bhola had to pay ransom to different bandit groups after they were abducted by the criminals in the last two years, said Alauddin Patwary, general secretary of Shamraj Matsya Arat Samobay Samity.

He said on Saturday night (January 22), a group of dacoits abducted about five fishermen from Ballua in Hatiya.

He said after abduction, the criminals contacted through phone number and demanded ransom money through bKash numbers. An amount ranging between Tk 50,000 and Tk1.5 lakh was taken from each victim as ransom, he said.

Hatiya in Noakhali district,Banshkhali in Chattogram and east side of Manpura in Bhola are the hot spots of the criminals, he said.

There is a shoal to the east Manpura where the victims are held hostage after kidnapping, he said.

After abduction, the law enforcers are hardly informed as the criminals threaten to kill the victims in case of informing the law enforcement agencies of the matter, said the leader.

Although police, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Bangladesh Coast Guard (BCG) and others are vigilant   against the bandits in the sea and the coastal areas, some gangs germinated anew. The gangs abduct fishermen and loot their cash and valuables, according to fishing trawler owners associations.

Golam Mostafa Chowdhury, president of Barguna Fishermen’s Trawler Owners Association, told the Daily Sun that the menace of the dacoits stopped in the sea after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina declared dacoit-free Sundarbans in November, 2018, but their menace resumed from 2021.

He said in December last year, some fishermen were abducted and about Tk 12 lakh was taken from them as ransom.

The RAB took action by capturing the criminals and three were killed in ‘gunfight,’ but the criminals continued to commit the crimes, he said.

He said some fishermen were involved in committing abduction and robberies.

“When they do not get sufficient fish, they commit such crimes and take ransom from the victims,” he said.

There are some middlemen who work as media between the robbers and victims’ family members. They collect ransom money from the family members and reach it to the criminals,” he said.

Sometimes, they do not pay the entire amount they take from the families, which caused tortures on the victims, said another leader of the association seeking not to be named.

The leader said that after abduction of the 17 fishermen, including Anwar, the robbers contacted the owner of the fishing trawler MahfuzurRahman hailing from Laxmipur and demanded Tk five lakh for the victims’ release.

The trawler owner reached a contract that he would pay Tk two lakh and the dacoits would free the victims with his trawler, said the leader, adding that the broker took Tk one lakh from the amount.

Getting Tk one lakh, the leader of the dacoits phoned the trawler owner, saying, “You send only Tk one lakh.”

“Maybe, the criminals took revenge after throwing Anwar in the sea,” said the leader.

The leader added that the RAB already arrested 15 members, including ringleader, of KabirBahini involved in the abduction of the 16 fishermen.

In August last year, the robbers kidnapped 50 fishermen and looted valuables, including fish from their trawlers, in the Bay of Bengal in Cox’s Bazar.

Lt Col MA Yusuf, commanding officer of RAB-7, told the Daily Sun that Kabir Bahini germinated anew and they arrested Kabir and his 14 members on Saturday.

“If we find any information on any gang, we will take action. Our drive continues to catch the criminals,” he said.