Long road to rehabilitation | The Daily Star

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The Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, span five districts of the country

Until 2018, forest thieves levied tolls and ransoms by kidnapping coastal residents and tourists

In the early 90s, thieves demanded a ransom of 20,000 to 30,000 Tk. In the 2000s, they asked between 1 and 2 lakh of Tk for each person abducted

No data available on the number of people killed or abducted by thieving gangs in the Sundarbans

A special task force was formed in 2012 with the director general of the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) to make the Sundarbans “free from thieves”

A 223 Rab readers, approx. 135 thieves were killed and 507 others arrested

Rab recovered approximately 1,556 firearms and 33,324 bullets during the trips

Between 2016 and 2018, around 328 thieves came to Rab with 462 guns and 22,504 bullets

PM declared Sundarbans ‘thief-free’ on November 1, 2018

AFTER DELIVERY

Tk 1 lakh given to each thief from PM funds

Rab provided 20,000 Tk to each thief as well as poultry, shops etc. according to the thief’s needs

Many former robbers claim they are still struggling

The government had promised to settle the cases against them and help them resolve their legal issues, but the promise has yet to be kept.

On December 26, Khandaker Al Moin, director of Rab’s legal and media wing, said a process was underway to provide legal assistance to surrendered thieves, except in cases of murder and rape.

“I barely earn Tk 26,000 per month driving a rickshaw in Dhaka, but almost Tk 22,000 of that goes into legal fees for six cases brought against me, I had to take out a loan worth of 2.5 lakh Tk to settle six cases filed against me I had hoped to have peace of mind in surrendering, but alas, I am still haunted!

Jahangir Shikari Former robber


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