Vol. 5 Num 56 Wed. July 21, 2004  
Star Chittagong

Foy's Lake not safe for tourists?

Crime has increased at the picturesque Foy's Lake area in the recent time, scaring off the visitors from the scenic site.

At least four incidents of mugging occurred and a woman was allegedly abducted at the spot in past ten days causing grave concern among the tourists that dismayed them. Besides, the place has turned into a safe haven for the drug addicts and those who tease women.

With the tourism ministry as well as government working hard to upgrade the scenic hilly belt to an international standard of tourism spot to attract tourists from home and abroad, local people are in apathy about the site due to poor security system.

The government leased the Foy's Lake to Concord Group for 50 years from April 1, 2004. Two companies of Concord Group -- Concord Entertainment Company Limited and Concord Engineering and Construction Limited have been tasked to develop the spot with increasing amusement facilities to the visitors, sources said. Prime Minister Khaleda Zia on April 19 laid the foundation stone of the project of Tk 103 crore.

Despite the government's effort to turn the site into an international standard of tourist spot aiming at earning huge revenue, the number of visitors is reportedly decreasing day by day due to lack of security measures.

Only 30 security personnel, including 20 ansars and 10 plain-clothes watchmen work in three shifts to ensure safety of visitors at the 337 acres of vast hilly belt.

"Yes, the number of visitors went down recently, Md Anwar Sadat Siddiquee," assistant general manager (administration and operation) of Concord Entertainment Company Limited said.

He, however, declined to give any statistics about the number of visitors in the recent months saying that off-season might have been the reason behind it.

At least four incidents of mugging took place there in last ten days.

Amirul Islam, an official of Chowdhury Group of Industries of Dhaka, was robbed at the hilltop of the Foy's Lake and received severe stab injuries in his back on July 12. Amirul said that he informed the incident to the General Manager of Concord Entertainment Limited immediately but he did not take any initiative to arrest the muggers.

"Six muggers snatched my money and some transcripts. They stabbed me in my back when I tried to resist them. I suspect involvement of the on duty security guards of Foy's Lake because they did not come in aid of me and standing few yards away from the spot," he added.

Besides, Susana, an English tourist, was robbed of her digital camera and Tk 3000 at the same place on July 11. However, the Concord authority recovered the camera worth about US $ 3000 and detained a female mugger -- Rumi Akhter on Friday and handed over her to the police.

A garments worker was also robbed the same day and a student lost his all belongings a day before, sources said.

A housewife was abducted by some armed criminals recently and released later on. However, many incidents of mugging remained unreported.

Anwar Sadat said, the development activities have just begun and all the facilities, including the security measures, will be provided gradually to make the place a real tourist spot. He said he sought police assistance but they do not visit the spot even once a week.

SM Shibli Noman, Officer in Charge (OC) of Khulshi thana, denied the allegation saying that a four-member patrol police discharge their duty at the entry point of the Foy's Lake from 9:00am to 11:00pm daily.

. PHOTO: Zobaer Hossain Sikder