‘She kept traffickers in sync’
Once a victim of human trafficking, Nodi Akter became a trafficker herself and worked as a coordinator between traffickers in India, Malaysia and UAE.
She was among seven members of a transnational racket arrested by police on Monday.
In 2017, she was trafficked to Malaysia. After returning to Bangladesh in 2019, she got involved in the murky crime.
Police yesterday revealed this information, along with detailed identities of the six other arrestees. They also revealed that a UP member in Jashore's Sharsha upazila helped trafficking victims cross the border by introducing them to Border Guard Bangladesh members as her relatives.
Nodi is known by several names to the victims she trafficked, Md Shahidullah, deputy commissioner (Tejgaon Division) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told a press briefing at his office yesterday.
Her name is Jaya Aktar Jannat on her Indian Aadhaar Card, and many also know her as Eti in the country. The name in her passport is Noorjahan, while she is also known as Jolly in the border areas of Satkhira, and Preety in the border areas of Jashore.
In Dubai, she is known as Layla, according to police.
Other than Bangla, she is skilled in five languages -- Hindi, Arabic, Tamil, Malay and English.
"The racket's network stretches to Malaysia, the UAE and India. Nodi coordinates for them," the DC said.
Police said she had close ties with the Bangladeshi traffickers arrested by Bengaluru police on May 27 in connection with the video clip of a 22-year-old woman being tortured and sexually assaulted.
"Nodi and Rifadul Islam Ridoy, also known as Ridoy Babo on TikTok, both lived in Moghbazar area in Dhaka. She is a part of Ridoy's racket. We have found that she has trafficked more than five women abroad through this racket," the DC said.
Recently, five women who were trafficked to India and later forced into sex work, escaped from the clutches of the racket and returned to Bangladesh. They filed cases against the traffickers.
Nodi, 28, is accused in at least two of the five trafficking cases filed with Hatirjheel Police Station in recent weeks.
According to one of the cases, a victim's husband sold his wife to Nodi for Tk 40,000 and Nodi later handed over the woman to the sex racket in India for Tk 70,000.
She also trafficked three more women of a family -- two sisters and their aunt -- from Jatrabari to the Indian cities of Bengaluru, Chennai and Kerala.
Police seized two Aadhaar cards, a passport, a diary, photographs of two victims, two air tickets of a Bengaluru-Goa flight and a mobile phone from Nodi's possession.
Nodi hails from Munshiganj and studied till class five. She was married to known criminal Rajib Hossain in 2005, police said.
In 2015, Rajib was killed in a crossfire.
Investigators learnt that Nodi herself was trafficked to Malaysia by a racket in 2017.
After coming back to the country in 2019, she married again, but police said the marriage did not last. In the same year, she met another trafficker named Sonia and eventually got involved in the racket.
Two teams of police arrested the seven people while conducting raids in bordering areas in Jashore and Narail districts on Monday.
The other arrestees are Al Amin Hossain, 28, Saiful Islam, 28, Palak Mandal, 26, Binash Sikdar, 33, Tarikul Islam, 26, and Amirul Islam, 30.
The seven arrestees have each been placed on four-day remand.
Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Mahmuda Akter passed the order after Investigation Officer Mohammad Mohiuddin Faruk, an inspector of Hatirjheel Police Station, produced them before the court with a 10-day remand prayer in a case filed by a victim who returned from India, court sources said.
Police said Palak Mandal, hailing from Jashore's Monirampur, went to his grandfather's house in Uttar Chabbish Pargana of India's West Bengal after passing SSC. Later he completed a bachelor's degree in ayurvedic medicine.
He came into close contact with Israfil Hossain Khokhon, Bakul, Taslima and other members of the racket staying in India.
During his practice in ayurvedic medicine, he first targeted poor young girls who came for treatment. Then he sent them to Taslima in Bengaluru.
"After that he started managing Aadhaar Cards for the trafficked women and also looked after the women at a 'safe home' and then sent them to Bengaluru," DCMd Shahidullah said.
Police said he has his own Indian ID cards.
"He has his Aadhaar card and two other ID cards issued by the election commission of India and Income Tax Department," said the police official.
Police seized an Indian SIM card and a victim's Aadhaar card from his possession.
UP MEMBER IN THE RACKET
Police said a upazila parishad member in Sharsha gets Tk 1,000 for each woman trafficked to India. Police are yet to arrest her and have not yet disclosed the member's name.
Police said the UP member has close ties with Al Amin. Al Amin had been involved in the racket since 2017 and was shot by India's Border Security Force (BSF) in 2020 when he was trafficking four women to India.
"The women are kept at Al Amin's house near the Sharsha border. If any women get caught by BGB [Border Guard Bangladesh] during trafficking, the UP member manages to get them released by introducing the women as her relatives," said the official.
Among the other arrestees, Saiful has a mobile transaction shop in Panch Bhulat Bazar area in Sharsha. The UP member and the other accused used to send and receive money using Saiful's account, according to police.
Hailing from Narail, Binash rented a house at Benapole and filled forms for travellers who crossed the border. While doing this, he got involved with the racket. He also married an Indian national, police said.
The investigators said the arrested traffickers are from the same transnational racket, the members of which were recently arrested in India.
So far, law enforcement officials in Bangladesh have arrested 20 accused while Indian police arrested 12.