Media: The Independent
Lured by better job prospects in Malaysia, many people in Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong areas have become victims of human trafficking. They have remained missing for a long time and their families are clueless about their whereabouts. Distraught family members have moved the offices of district administration for help, but the missing persons are yet to be traced.
Zahur Alam, 28, from Karillachhori of Ramu in Cox’s Bazar left for Malaysia through the sea route in 2013. His father, Rashid Ahmed, could only pay Tk. 20,000 against the traffickers’ demand for Tk. 150,000. Zahur, who has a seven-year-old daughter, has remained missing since then.
“We filed a case with Ramu police station on March 29, 2016, accusing Badiul Alam, Safi Ullah and Afsar of human trafficking. But the law enforcers haven’t been able to trace my son till now,” said Rashid.
Nurul Hakim from Kharulia of Ramu left home for Malaysia in 2014. He has been missing since then. His father, Ali Hossain, wrote to the local union parishad chairman, police station, and upazila nirbahi officer (UNO), urging them to find out his missing son. But all his efforts have gone in vain.
Jalal Ahmed faces a similar situation. His son, Mizanur Raham, has been missing since 2014.
“I went to the UNO office, deputy commissioner’s office, police superintendent’s office and even urged the local lawmaker to trace my son. All these proved futile. I don’t know where my son’s whereabouts,” Jalal said.
Saiful Islam, son of Nurul islam, Lukman Hakim, son of Sayed Noor, Nur Nabi Badsah, son of Nurul Alam, Ramjan Ali, son of Ali Ahmed, Sikdandar, son of Abdus Slam—all from Ramu upazila—were trafficked to Malaysia between 2013 and 2014. They have not returned home since then, and their family members are in the dark about their whereabouts.
Meanwhile, a group of people have swung into action to cash in on the helplessness of these families. They are taking money from the distraught family members, promising them to bring back the missing men.
“On January 14, 2014 my son, Nur Nabi Badsha, went missing while going to catch fish in the Teknaf coastal area. Later, I came to know that my son was trafficked to Myanmar on his way to Malaysia. I heard he is now languishing in Malaysian jail,” said Nurul Alam, father of Nur Nabi Badsha.
“I gave Tk. 5,000 to a man, who man told me he would bring back my son. But my son is still missing,” Nurul lamented.
A police team with a list of 15 missing people provided by the home affairs ministry went to Saiful Islam’s home at Jawaariya Nala of Ramu.
“I heard my son is in a jail in Yangoon. I applied to the home affairs ministry to trace my son. The police visited my house with a list of the missing persons who are in Yangoon jail,” said Gul Bahar Begum, mother of Saiful Islam.
There is, however, no information about how many Malaysia-bound people are missing.
“We don’t have any data about the missing persons. If we can obtain a list of people in different jails in other countries from the foreign affairs ministry, we’ll try to bring them back,” said Khaled Mahmud, additional district magistrate and member of the Human Trafficking Prevention Committee of Cox’s Bazar district.
“About 4,000–5,000 people have been victims of human trafficking. We’ve so far provided support to 689 people at our shelter centre. Legal support has also been given to 21 persons. But, we don’t have any list of missing persons. Many people come to us with documents saying that their sons are missing,” said Jishu Barua, programme manager of Bangladesh Counter-trafficking in Persons, a project being implemented by Young Power in Social Action (YPSA) in Cox’s Bazar.