Robbers reign in Sundarban
SUNDARBAN, the largest single-tract mangrove forest in the world, provides not only sanctuary to flora and fauna but also livelihood to humans in adjacent areas. People catch fish and crab, collect honey and depend on trees for fuel. They have to collect or buy wood from Sundarban. During my visit last week at Gabura union of Satkhira, I found fishing, honey collecting, catching crab etc at Sundarban are common livelihood for most people.
Presently, it is not certain that people actually make profit by catching fish and crab at Sundarban due to robbery. Everyone is in constant fear of paying to robbers once or twice a week. A group of fishermen comprising six or seven men has to pay Tk 20,000 once or twice a week. Some people have to pay two groups of robbers at the same time. A person can earn Tk 2,000 to 10,000 per week but he is not sure if he could take it home. He has to pay Tk 1,000 to 5,000 to the robbers every week.
Sometimes gunfights take place between two groups of robbers. When one group of robbers takes money from a man, another robber group may also demand money in another spot. In such cases gunfight occurs and usually the man in between two robber group is killed or injured during the gunfight.
Sometimes robbers take people hostage and demand Tk 50,000 to 100,000 as ransom. It is not safe now to visit Sundarban for individual visitor without any security from the police. The police cannot prevent robbery in some areas. Sometimes gunfights between coast guard and robbers take place. Several robbers have been injured or killed in such gunfights. Sometimes police are threatened by robbers not to take any action against them. They are sometimes allegedly bribed by robbers.
This is certain that if fishermen and honey collector were not attacked by robbers at Sundarban, they could earn enough money to lead a decent life. But robbers pose a constant threat to their life and livelihood. Robbers take away money either by directly attacking fishermen or threatening them over mobile phone. Local people also know some robbers but cannot take any action against them in fear.
The number of on-duty law enforcers is not adequate to cover such a vast area although Border Guard Bangladesh members are available. If the government wishes to prevent robbery in Sundarban, it needs to beef up security and law and order in the area.
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