Rescued from the Andaman Sea by the Indonesian authorities around three months ago, 18 Bangladeshi fortune seekers returned home today.
They reached Dhaka from Jakarta on a Malaysia Airlines flight around 12:10am, Anindya Dutta of International Organization for Migration’s Dhaka office told The Daily Star.
He said the trafficking victims hailed from Narsingdi, Jessore, Chuadanga, Satkhira and Sylhet.
Talking to journalists at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, the returnees said they were beaten mercilessly and abandoned in the middle of the sea as they refused to pay traffickers ransom.
Minhaz Uddin, who hails from Alamdanga of Chuadanga, told BBC Bangla Service that he was feeling lucky to have returned home.
”Some brokers lured us into going to Malaysia by the sea by promises of good jobs there. But instead of the jobs, we got captivity and days of starvation,” one of the victims told a journalist.
They said each of them was asked to pay Tk 2 lakh to Tk 2.2 lakh only after reaching the country. But, the traffickers demanded the money in the middle of the journey.
After being left abandoned, the Bangladeshis were stranded in the sea for days. They were rescued after they came to the notice of the Indonesian authorities. They were taken to a refuge centre in that country afterwards.
Later, they contacted the Bangladesh embassy in Indonesia and sought its help, said the victims.
After their nationalities were confirmed, the IOM arranged their repatriation upon Bangladesh government’s request, said Anindya.
The victims demanded that the traffickers be arrested and given exemplary punishment.
Relatives of the returnees alleged that the traffickers were moving freely and no action was being taken against them.
The crisis of human trafficking through the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea unfolded in the first week of last month when Thailand found mass graves of “trafficking victims” in its southern Songkhla province.
Last week, 150 Bangladeshi trafficking victims returned home after being rescued from the Bay by the Myanmar navy.