Local people in Teknaf say that since last year, they are avoiding many remote places for fear of getting kidnapped and shipped off to Thailand.
According to our sources, whole communities in many villages are now involved in the trafficking business. When the traffickers cannot fill the boats, they ask local villagers to kidnap a person and sell him for 15,000 Bangladesh Taka. Villagers in some areas are more than happy to oblige. Many outsiders venturing into these remote places near the Burmese border have been taken by force to the trafficking boat.
One of the trafficking hotspots is the village of Shah porang which leads to the remote island of Shahpuri Deep. The village has acquired such a notorious reputation that cab drivers and boatmen often refuse to take passengers to this village for fear of being kidnapped.
One man who was about to be kidnapped says, “They started pulling me and my sister out of the cab (cng auto rickshaw). I would have been taken when I saw my cousins were among the kidnappers. They apologised to me and let us continue our journey,” he says. That day, he found out that many of his relatives were also involved in this business.
Other villages involved in the trafficking business are Nayapara, Baharchora, Ulbonia, the settlements along Inani beach and of course the island of Shahpuri Deep from where many of the boats are anchored.
Many Rohingyas are also involved in the business.
Because of the increasing desperation of smugglers, local villagers and Rohingya refugees say they avoid many of the villages from Teknaf to Shahpuri Deep.
There are fears that as due to the publicity that exposes the cruelty of traffickers and the ordeal faced by migrants on trafficking ships and the jungle camps of Thailand, the number of Bangladeshis wanting to make this desperate journey might decrease. But human trafficking in this area has become a multi million dollar business and it is very unlikely it will stop. So in such circumstances, the forced abduction of passengers is likely to increase, fear locals.
Local politicians and police are also involved in this kidnapping racket, says local Bangladeshis and Rohingya refugees.