Tricked and trafficked into Brunei | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 25, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:40 AM, September 25, 2020

Tricked and trafficked into Brunei

Brokers offer ‘work visas’ from fake companies to send Bangladeshis to the oil-rich country

To change his and his family's fortune, Zia Mollah flew to Brunei on October 30 last year after collecting Tk 3.20 lakh expense by selling  land and sister-in-law's gold ornaments.

But soon after he landed in the country, his passport was seized by a group of brokers. Although they were supposed to provide job and residence, they left Zia abandoned.

While Zia and some other Bangladeshis were trying to survive there after renting a house in Darussalam of Brunei, law enforcers arrested them as illegal immigrants.

Zia had to stay in jail for seven days.

He said he was tortured in the country, as police wanted to know how he entered Brunei without documents.

Finally, he got released on a special pass with the help of an interpreter. They told him to collect his passport from the brokers. 

Zia contacted them but they sought money for it.

He informed his family in Bangladesh about the situation. They had to take a loan of around Tk 1.20 lakh from different NGOs and send it to him so that he can pay the brokers and come back home.

Zia returned to Bangladesh on January 2.

He shared his experience with The Daily Star at the office of Rab-3 on Wednesday.

His elder brother Nasir Mollah said their father is a rickshaw-puller and he works as a support staff at a private bank.

"We thought once we send Zia abroad, the condition of our family would improve, but we are now struggling to repay the loans we took," said Nasir.

The siblings gathered at the Rab office after learning that the elite force has arrested three persons, including the one who sent Zia to Brunei and took money from them.

Rab-3 in a joint drive with National Security Intelligence (NSI) arrested Sheikh Aminur Rahman Himu from the capital's Kafrul on Tuesday night.

He allegedly took Tk 3 crore from 400 people in last one year after promising them jobs in Brunei, said Lt Col Rakibul Hasan, commanding officer of Rab-3, at a briefing at the battalion office on Wednesday evening.

Interrogating the arrestee, Rab arrested his two associates -- Nur Alam and Bablur Rahman -- from Mohakhali.

Lt Col Rakibul said Himu is a close associate of the mastermind of Brunei human trafficking racket -- Mehedi Hasan Bijon.

An Accused of around 20 cases, Bijon's passport was suspended by the home ministry last year following a request of Bangladesh high commission in Brunei after learning about his involvement in human trafficking.

Rab said Bijon is in Bangladesh now.

About the procedure of sending people, Lt Col Rakibul said there are some 3,000 companies in Brunei owned by Bangladeshis. But only one percent of these companies are legitimate, he said.

Bangladeshi nationals in collaboration with Brunei citizens opened these fake companies and created fake visas to recruit workers from Bangladesh, he said.

"The Bangladesh high commission in Brunei already identified these companies and action would be taken against them soon," he said.

Palash Kumar Bosu, executive magistrate of Rab, who was also present at the briefing, said the Bangladeshi high commission has started a visa attestation system in August 2017 after noticing that a huge number of Bangladeshis were becoming victim of trafficking.

Still many Bangladeshis have flown to Brunei, he said.

He said they are suspecting some officials working with the visa attestation system might be involved as it should be difficult to fly with a fake visa after 2017.

"We will be able to say for sure after investigation," he added.

Lt Col Rakibul said they have already got names of the racket members. "We're conducting drives to arrest them," he added.  

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