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Abduction on rise

6 kidnapped and killed in 10 days as ransom not paid

Iqbal Mahmud and MH Maswood

Incidents of kidnap mainly for ransoms have increased in the past year with children becoming the prime victims who in some cases are killed for their parents’ inability to buy their freedom.
At least six bodies of schoolchildren were recovered in the last 10 days of January in five districts after being kidnapped as their families had failed to pay ransom for their release.
Officials said they were trying to detect the organised gangs engaged in abducting children for ransom while criminologists said the crime went on unchecked as police were weak on enforcing the laws and conducting rescue operations.
According to the statistics of police headquarters, 879 people, most of them children and businessmen, were  kidnapped in 2013 – the highest number of abductions in a single year since 2004.
Rapid Action Battalion data showed that they had rescued 119 victims of abduction, including 20 children, in 114 successful operations during which the elite force had arrested 184 alleged abductors.
However, no agencies could provide any specific statistics on how many children were kidnapped last year and how many of them were feared killed.
Detectives and RAB officials, who were involved in several rescue missions, told New Age the recent phenomenon suggested that in most cases, friends, relatives or acquaintances were getting involved in kidnapping for ransoms.
They said that miscreants usually target children of businessmen and expatriates since they could afford hefty ransom that the abductors demand.
Criminologist and Dhaka University teacher Nehal Karim noted that there were laws in the country to check such crimes but the criminals took the advantage of non-application of laws or half-hearted actions by the police.
‘In many cases, the lawmen do not make any real efforts for rescue of the victims simply because they are not influential or powerful. A proactive role of law enforcers could curb the incidents of kidnapping of children’, he told New Age.
Experts identifies kidnapping as one of the oldest forms of crime.
Shah Alam, Criminal Investigation Department’s additional deputy inspector general (organised crimes) of police, said the police took necessary action after being reported about kidnappings.
‘But incidents of kidnapping have increased due to the availability of mobile money transfer system’, he told New Age.
The kidnappers now prefer to take the ransom money through the mobile money transfer system as in such cases they remain out of reach of the police, the official added.
RAB legal and media wing director ATM Habibur Rahman said sometimes friends, relatives and acquaintances commit the crimes as they have information about the children and their parents’ affordability. In such cases the kidnappers could also guess what kind of assistance the victims were getting from RAB and other law enforcement agencies, he added.
‘Interestingly, in some cases, the kidnappers approached RAB pretending to be complainants so that they could know about the rescue operation,’  Habib said.  
Recently, bodies of two schoolchildren were recovered in Narayanganj and one each from Chittagong, Brahmanbaria Rangpur and Lalmonirhat. Families said their children were killed after abduction due to their inability to pay ransom.
In Chittagong, police recovered the decomposed body of Asraful Alam Opu, a student of class IX, from Patiya upazila on January 27, eight days after he had gone missing on January 19 from a wedding ceremony.
Opu’s family member went to the place the abductors had asked them to, but found nobody there. Later a caller told Opu’s mother that she would find the body of Opu on a pile of sand in Yakubdondi area of Patiya.
The family alleged that the kidnappers had demanded Tk one crore for Opu’s freedom. ‘They killed my son because I was unable to pay the ransom,’ said Opu’s father Idris Ali.
On January 21, another class IX student of the school, Jahidul Islam, went missing and his body was found in a sack with his throat slit on the following day.
Besides, at least five children were killed in similar manner in the last six months in the district, according to police.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police deputy commissioner (media and public relations) Masudur Rahman said women and children were the prime targets of abduction.
In several cases, women were kidnapped over love affairs and children for ransom, said Rahman.
The battalion could not identify any particular rings involved in kidnapping. However, a RAB spokesperson said that a new trend had emerged in recent days in which victims were kidnapped in microbuses.
‘When traffic reduces late at night, the rings invite pedestrians to board the microbuses for pay to go to their destinations and thus lure the people waiting for buses into their trap,’ said RAB official. 

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