At least 150 middlemen mostly Bangladeshis were either jailed or fined in Tekhnaf of Cox’s Bazar for tempting Rohingya refugees into trespassing on Bangladesh or for providing them secret shelter in exchange of money on their arrival in Bangladesh.
Tekhnaf upazila nirbahi officer Jahid Hossain Siddique said the people were penalised for creating ‘public nuisance’.
He said the convicts were used to charge money to take the Rohingyas across the Naf River to Bangladesh.
Jahid said the amount was not fixed; it rather varied from Tk 5,000 to Tk 10,000 and sometimes even more.
Another official in Tekhnaf said, ‘Many perpetrators keep Rohingya refugees, who failed to pay the promised amount, confined. They get released after they communicate with their relatives in Bangladesh and convince them to pay the amount to the middlemen.’
The Tekhnaf authorities launched the mobile court drives after two dozens of Rohingya bodies were found floating on the bordering river Naff, which divided Bangladesh and military-dominated Myanmar, and Shahparir Dwip in Tekhnaf since August 31.
The district police additional superintendent Afruzul Haque Tutul said since the trouble began in Myanmar, they had recovered a total of 102 bodies of male, female and many children mostly on the Naf River and coast of Shahparir Dwip and Sabrang in Cox’s Bazar.
On Monday, the offices of Tekhnaf upzila nirbahi officer and the assistant commissioner of land conducted series of drives, sentencing jail and monetary punishment to 147 individuals in 53 cases.
Of the 147 individuals, 142 were males and they were awarded jails ranging three months to six months while four women and a child were fined Tk 2,000 each.
On Wednesday, the mobile court jailed three more middlemen pm same accusation.
Cox’s Bazar additional district magistrate Khaled Mahmud also said the middlemen were jailed for inviting Rohingya to cross the border or bring them to a particular location, or they had rented out land to Rohingya.
Considering the crimes, he said ‘We jailed those ranging three to six months. He said ‘the convicts are both Rohingyas and Bangladeshis.’
He said there are four mobile court teams in Ukhiya, Tekhnaf and district headquarters to conduct drive against the perpetrators.
A Coast Guard spokesperson Commander AHM Shamim said their personnel had damaged about 50 boats along the coast while few others were seized for transporting Rohingya refugees from Myanmar.
According to the home affairs ministry, 4,028 Rohingyas were pushed back between August 25 and September 10 while around 3,79,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing persecution in their land in Myanmar by their security forces following reported attack on security facilities by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.
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