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26 May, 2019 12:17:11 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 26 May, 2019 11:37:52 AM
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Dreams for better life end in Mediterranean

Relatives of boat capsize victims, survivors narrate tales of deceit
HARUN UR RASHID, Dhaka
Dreams for better life end in Mediterranean

Relatives of the survivors and deceased from the Mediterranean boat capsize narrated yesterday the complex web of deception woven around them by manpower agencies. They laid bare the tragedy that involved money and human lives. They said the manpower agencies involved had promised them to directly take them to Italy. But they were taken through different countries. When they reached Libya, they were taken hostage, tortured and pressurised to cough up money.

Even the relatives of the passengers on board did not dare to lodge any complaints to the police in fear of the threats issued by the manpower agencies. They were told that they would not see their near and dear ones alive if they go to the law enforcers.

After losing money and their kith and kin, the relatives are now demanding exemplary punishment and compensation for their loss.

On May 9, a boat carrying at least 39 Bangladesh nationals capsized in the Mediterranean Sea. Fourteen Bangladeshi people were rescued alive from the scene of the tragedy.

Among the survivors, three persons returned home from Tunisia early yesterday. They are: Mahfuz Ahmed, 32, Bilal Ahammad, 34, and Bahadur, 29. Soon after their return to Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, the immigration police and other agencies started interrogating them. They would be released after completion of certain formalities, according to sources.

Mofiz Uddin, niece of Bilal Ahammad, who was waiting at the Airport, told The Independent yesterday that four of his relatives, including Bilal, were promised to be taken to Italy by New Yahya Overseas Agency in Sylhet, run by its proprietor Enamul Haque, who is now in police custody.  Only Bilal has survived, but the three others were missing. They are: Mofiz’s own brother Abdul Aziz, 25, and his two nephews Ahmed Hossain, 24, and Liton Ahmed, 24.

Mofiz said his relatives had provided Tk. 36 lakh (Tk. 9 lakh each) to Enamul Haque's personal bank accounts in Pubali Bank and Social Islami Bank Limited or through Bkash payments to directly take them to Italy.  These four persons left home for Italy on December 13 last year. At first they were taken to India and then to Sri Lanka. Finally, they were taken to Libya, where they were taken hostages and tortured. They were kept in a dark, small room. They even passed several days without food.

“We received phone calls from Libya and were told to provide money for their release. We paid the money to Enamul. We provided Tk. 36 lakh in three to four instalments,” said Mofiz.

“We wanted to inform the matter to the police, but we were threatened by Enamul. He told us if we go to the law enforcers, our relatives would be killed,” he explained.  “We have been deceived by manpower agencies. We want justice,” he added.

Shahidul Alam Samad, brother-in-law of another survivor called Mahfuz Ahmed, was also waiting at the airport. He told The Independent that Mahfuz and his younger brother Kamran Ahmed Maruf, 23, had wanted to go to Italy. They had paid Tk. 18 lakh  to the local manpower syndicate Saiful–Enam in Sylhet.

Samad said both Mahfuz and Maruf were taken to Dhaka from Sylhet and then to Dubai. They were taken to Libya after that. From there, they were being taken to Italy by a boat, which capsized in the Mediterranean and Maruf was killed.

Samad said the Saiful-Enam syndicate did not have any office in Sylhet. Enam is now in police custody, while Saiful is on the run.

Another survivor, Bahadur, used to run a mobile servicing centre in Kishoreganj before he left for Italy, said his maternal uncle Golam Sarwar Azad, who is a deed writer in Kishoreganj.

Bahadur wanted to go to Italy as his elder brother is already living in Italy.

Azad said Bahadur had given Tk. 7 lakh to a local agency to go to Italy. At first, he was taken to Dubai and from there to Libya. But he faced the boat capsize in the Mediterranean and survived somehow, he added.

All the relatives said they wanted punishment of the travel agencies that illegally sent people abroad under different pretexts.

However, out of the 14 survivors, three have returned home and four others are undergoing treatment in a Tunisian hospital as they suffered burn injuries. The rest said they would not return.

Earlier, foreign minister AK Abdul Momen had repeatedly told the media that if the survivors wanted to return home, the government would make the necessary arrangements.


IK

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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