By Sumi Khan
Dhaka, June 4 (IANS) In a nationwide crackdown, Bangladesh security forces have arrested 16 human traffickers responsible for sending more than 30 workers to Libya, most of whom perished in a grisly massacre last week. Seven of these 14 traffickers were nabbed by CID, said DIG (Organised Crime), Imtiaz Ahmed, in a press briefing on Thursday afternoon.
They also identified the travel agents, who are involved with human trafficking.
The Libyan warlord Khaled Al-Mishai, who is said to be responsible for killing 26 Bangladeshis and four African migrants in the town of Mizda, has reportedly been killed in a drone strike by Libyan government forces.In a tweet, Libyan English daily The Libya Observer said Khaled Al-Mishai was killed in a drone strike by Libyan air force south of Gharyan on Tuesday.
Chandan Devnath, Assistant Director of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) 14, told IANS that four of those arrested belonged to the big racket spearheaded by Haji Kamal that smuggles Bangladesh workers to Middle East , Africa and Europe via Kolkata and Mumbai.
On May 28, accomplices of a Libyan labour contractor opened fire on 38 Bangladeshi and some African workers after they had killed him.
Twenty-six Bangladeshis and four African migrant workers were killed on the spot and two later succumbed to wounds in a hospital.
The workers alleged that the Libyan contractor was fleecing and torturing them until they could take it no more.
Two victims, Mohammad Ali and Mahbub, had been sent by the trafficker Khabiruddin and Helaluddin Hilu, both of whom were arrested by RAB. Another victim Rajon Khandaker was sent by trafficker Shahid Miah, who was apprehended by RAB.
Injured migrant Janu Mia was sent by the traffickers Khabiruddin and Helaluddin , RAB official Devnath added.
RAB-3 has also arrested Kamal Uddin alias Haji Kamal (55), a ringleader of human trafficking.
He was arrested by a team of RAB-3 from Shahjadpur in the capital’s Gulshan area early on Monday.
Kamal allegedly had trafficked many of the 26 Bangladeshi nationals killed in Libya on May 28, said senior police Super Abdul Jabbar member of RAB-3 .
RAB official Jabbar told IANS: “Kamal supplied tiles for buildings but was connected to a big labour group. He would promise to send the labourers to Libya, then Europe. And then smuggled them abroad after taking money. In this way, he has sent at least 400 people to Libya.”
After his arrest, RAB seized a number of passports from Kamal reportedly used for human trafficking in the last nearly 10 years.
Bangladesh has strongly protested the massacre in the Libyan town of Mizda, 180 km south of Tripoli, on May 28.
Bangladesh did reach out to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to bring back the bodies home and sought compensation for their families.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen had demanded justice and compensation for families of those killed, appealing to both Libya and international agencies to deliver.
Bangladesh is one of three nations which continues to retain a mission in the civil war-ravaged Libya.
Labour exports and remittances by these labourers from abroad account for Bangladesh’s second largest source of foreign exchange earnings after ready-made garments, nearly 35 nbillion US dollars .
Which is why Bangladesh authorities discourage illegal labour exports and crack down on them, because the illegals don’t use banking channels but are compelled to use ‘hawala’ and ‘hundi’, resulting in loss of remittance income for the development-driven Hasina Sheikh government.