ABID AZAD

Things that make you to Think

Where have all the missing people gone?

On one night nearly three years ago, Yusuf went to the Dargar Chhora ghat in the Bay with his elder brother Yunus, who was about to embark a ship headed for Malaysia seeking migration illegally.

Yusuf, who could see the risks, did not quite support his brother but could not stop him either because he was the younger of the two.

“It was around 3am when he [Yunus] boarded a small fishing boat and set off on an uncertain journey. I had no idea that it was going to be the last time I was seeing my brother. We have not heard from him since, nor do we know his whereabouts,” Yusuf said while talking to this correspondent recently.

“He hugged me and told me to take care of our parents and not to worry. I begged him not to go, but he did not listen to me,” Yusuf recollected the last memories with his brother.

A resident of Lengur Beel village of Sadar union in Teknaf upazila, Yunus left behind his wife and two daughters. He was not the only one from the locality to have embarked on that perilous journey.

This reporter has found that at least 57 others from the area set off for Malaysia on that night; and nobody knows anything about any of them.

Yusuf, the only witness, said: “There were three brokers – Mahmud Ali from Mitha Panir Chhora, Jiabul from Dargah Chhora, and Ezahar Mia from Jaliya Para. They passed on my brother and other to three other people whom I did not know.”

Talking to the families of some of those missing victims, this reporter came to know about a person named Moulavi Nazir, who was said to be the local ring leader of human smugglers.

Mahmud, Jiabul and Ezahar used to work for Nazir who lived in Jaliya Para but in now in Malaysia.

The unusual thing about all these people going missing is that none of their families have ever got any call for ransom.

Yusuf said: “We learned from sources that the smugglers will ask for ransom when the migrants reach Thailand. So, we arranged a large amount of money. We are still waiting but nobody has called in these two and a half years.”

Nurul Haq, father of a 14-year-old missing victim named Abdullah, told this correspondent that he had paid broker Jiabul Tk68,000.

“Jiabul first asked for Tk68,000 and said he would take my son to Malaysia if I gave him the money. I gave him the amount. A few days later, he demanded another Tk70,000. I could not pay that. Around 20-25 days later, he went to Malaysia and never came back. The two other brokers also do not live in this area anymore,” Nurul said.

The families of some of the victims filed two cases with the Moheshkhali police station in May this year. Police arrested three people in connection with the cases but there is still no news of the people who went missing on that night.

Case Study III: Runaway teens now spurn Dhaka and go to Malaysia

Case Study II: Back in one piece from neverland

Case Study I: A lure too good to be true

Human Trafficking In Our Times-VIII: Who sheltershuman traffickers?

Human Trafficking In Our Times-VII: A security crisis in the making?

Human Trafficking In Our Times-VI: The traffickers of Teknaf

Human Trafficking In Our Times-V: How modern slavers prey on Bangladeshi 

Human Trafficking In Our Times-IV: Bangladesh’s crime coast

Human Trafficking In Our Times-III: Sold into slavery for a few thousand taka

Human Trafficking In Our Times-II: Why risk your life on the open seas?

Human Trafficking In Our Times-I: The deadly route to Malaysia

 

 

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