Prof. ABM. Mosharraf Husain, Bagerhat
After the surrender of Master Bahini, one of the most powerful and largest gangs of jungle pirates the entire Sundarban forest is still under the control of some 30 gangs of jungle pirates. About 25 lakh people who are mainly depend on the resources of Sundarban forest now became the hostages in the hands of the jungle pirates.
Their main activity/duty is to kidnap the people depend on forest resources and realize hand some amounts of cash Taka as ransoms from the kidnapped people. But a number of jungle pirates are ready to surrender to the law enforcing agencies if they get such a chance; it is learnt from the concerned sources. It may be mentioned here that with getting the assurance from the Home Minister the Master Bahini, one of the most powerful, notorious and largest gangs of jungle pirates ceremonially surrendered to him along with a huge number of arms and ammunitions recently. A number of active gangs of jungle pirates expressed their desire to surrender.
They further desired that they would surrender to the law enforcing agencies if they get assurance from them (law enforcing agencies). On My 31 when the jungle pirates belonging to Master Bahini was surrendering ceremonially the Home Minister said, those jungle pirates (of Sundarban forest) who are willing to surrender, give up piracy and return to normal life will be given legal support and will be rehabilitated by the Govt. At the same time the Home Minister said, the Government is very adamant to subdue the jungle pirates of Sundarban forest. The minister added, the Govt. already purchased 4 most ultra modern ships for RAB and the coastguards in order to control the entire Sundarban forest with strong hands. The Home Minister further added, helicopters will be used to raid Sundarbans to make it free from the hands of the jungle pirates.
After the declaration of the minister leaders of some notorious gangs of jungle pirates expressed their willing to surrender to the law enforcing agencies. In this connection Major Adnan , Deputy Commander of RAB-8 disclosed, after the surrender of jungle pirates belonging to Master Bahini a number of ring leaders of jungle pirates expressed their desires to our sources to surrender.
At the same time there is also a different picture. The entire Sundarban forest is still under the control of 30 big and small gangs of jungle pirates. Jungle pirates belonging to those gangs are bullying with show of authority in Sharankhola and Chandpai forest ranges under the Eastern Division (in Bagerhat district) of the forest and Khulna and Satkhira forest ranges under the Western Division of the forest. They are regularly kidnapping the fishermen, Bawalies, Mawals and those others who depend on the forest resources with a view to realizing ransoms.
It is learnt from the Govt. source that some 79 jungle pirates including 9 ring leaders were killed in the encounters with RAB and coastguards during the last 4 years. After the death of Bahini leaders the other members of the Bahinis took the leadership of the gangs and continue to commit the crimes. On some occasions one gang is splinted into several factions. More than 100 innocent fishermen were killed in the hands of jungle pirates during the last 4 years. Moreover, a number of both fishermen and jungle pirates were also killed in the gun battles took place between the rival gangs of jungle pirates over the expansion of supremacy on each other. Every year several thousand fishermen are kidnapped by the jungle pirates and they are released after realizing hand some amounts of cash Taka as ransoms from them.
According to the assessments of the owners’ associations of fishing trawlers of Patharghata Upazila in Barguna district, Mathbaria, Vandaria and Parerhats in Pirojpur district, Sharankhola Upazila in Bagerhat district, Koira, Paikgacha and Batiaghata Upazilas in Khulna district, Munshiganj and Vetkahli in Satkhia district and some fishermen groups of Dubla fisherman village, the jungle pirates realize about Taka. one hundred crores from 5 lakh fishermen and Bawalis as ransoms every year and those who fail to pay ransoms are killed in the hands of the jungle pirates. It is learnt from the different law enforcing agencies, forest department, fishermen and Bawalies, there are at least 30 big and small gangs of jungle pirates in all the 4 forest ranges in the Eastern and Western Divisions of the forest. Out of them Amzad, Bahini, Farhad Bahin, Shahidul Bahini, Jahangir Bahini, Zakir Bahini, Khoka Bahini, Noa Bahini, Mortoza Bahini, Anwar Bahini, Mahabub Bahini, Taslim Bahini, Nasir Bahini, Zulfikar Bahini, Gama Bahini, Dui Bhai Bahini, Rezaul alias Shirsa Bahini, Alim Bahini, Khokabhai Bahini, Kanai Bahini, Babu alias Raja Bahini, Mannan-Majid Bahini, Raju alias Raja Bahini, Majid Bhangi-Eunus Bahini, Ranga Bahini, and Fakir Bahini are committing the crimes unabatedly in the forest. Out of them six gangs are most powerful. Chandpai and Sharankhola forest ranges of Bagerhat district are dominated by Mortuza and Shirsa Bahini respectively. Satkira range is dominated by Amzad Bahini, Noa Bahini, Alim Bahini, Zakir Bahini, Kanai Bahini and Khoka Bahini and Khulna range is dominated by Mahabub Bahini and Zakir Bahini. Besides these, Satkhira range is also dominated by an Indian Bahini named Nirab Bahini. Members of this Bahini very often cross the border intrude in Bangladesh territory and kidnap Bangladeshi fishermken and others who depend on the forest in order to realize ransoms from them.
According to the law enforcing agencies and Bangladeshi fishermen and Bawalies, huge home and foreign made arms and ammunitions and speedy water vessels are under the possessions of a number of gangs of jungle pirates. According to the sources, there are about 50 gangs of jungle pirates who are committing the crimes in the forest. Out of them Shirsa Bahini and Jahangir Bahini are the most powerful and active in Mongla in Bagerhat district and Khulna area of the forest. It is alleged that food, arms and ammunitions, water vessels, fuel etc. are supplied to the jungle pirates by some local influential people under the shelter of some dishonest political leaders. It is claimed by the fishermen that ransom is realized from the kidnapped fishermen and Bawalies through Bkash. But no step was taken so far against those Bkash agents or transactions of money through the Bkash agent is not monitored by the concerned authorities.
It is learnt from the forest department that there are modern and speedy water vessels, arms and ammunitions and sufficient manpower are under the disposal of the powerful gangs of jungle pirates. But on the other hand, forest departments possess old and out dated water vessels, arms and ammunitions and shortage of manpower. In spite of that forest department took an appreciable effort since June 01 to curb the crimes in the forest. The people who depend on the forest resources opine that until and unless the God fathers and patrons of jungle pirates are not identified crimes in Sundarban forest cannot be stopped.