Vol. 5 Num 156 Thu. October 28, 2004  

36 children rescued at Dublar Char
Dry fish traders flee to avoid arrest

Coastguards launched a special combing operation at Dublar Char and its adjacent coastal belts of Bay of Bengal following rescue of 36 children on Monday night from different seasonal fish drying firms.

The children aged between seven to twelve years were brought from different parts of the country to fishermen villages of Dublar Char and other coastal belts for employing them in odd jobs without any salary.

Acting on tip-off, Commander Abdul Matin of Mongla Western Zone of Coastguards led the operation on Monday night at Dublar Char backed by a platoon of police.

Zahid Hossain, Offocer-in-Charge of Mongla Police Station, said the rescued children hailed from Noakhali, Nilphamary, Comilla and Chittagong districts would be sent back to their parents after proper investigation. They were allured with lucrative jobs here, Zahid said.

None of the employers could be arrested till yesterday as they managed to escape sensing presence of law enforcers during operation, coastguard sources said.

The children were treated as slaves by the owners of seasonal fish drying firms at Dublar char, coastguards said. Some of the children said they used to live in subhuman condition there without food.

According to rescued children, most of the dry fish traders hailed from Chittagong and Noakhali. Some times we became victims of sodomy, they said.

Dublar Char is famous for dry fish trader (shutki machh). Country earns huge foreign exchange exporting dry fish from here every year.

Hundreds of fishermen and minor children are engaged in catching sea fishes here and dry them up under the scorching heat of the sun.

There are a dozen of fishermen's villages at Dublar Char where these hapless children are kept as hostages by dry fish traders, police and coastguard sources said.

The traders also harbour notorious pirates of the Sundarbans for plundering forest resources and smuggling of contraband goods through the sea routes, they said.