74 red listed Bangladeshi criminals yet to be captured
For the first time, Bangladesh is going to apply for a red notice to Interpol, the international body of police, for the arrest of three godfathers or international gang leaders in the Middle East.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID), the police investigation branch, will soon make the application to the National Central Bureau (NCB) of Bangladesh Police Headquarters, Bangladesh counterpart of Interpol.
According to sources the three godfathers, who lure people with promises of a luxurious life and high salaries and are the main controllers of human trafficking in the Middle Eastern countries --Libya, Kuwait and Dubai-- are currently living abroad.
On June 6, Kuwait's Resident Investigation Department arrested Shahid Islam Papul, a member of parliament from Lakshmipur-2 (Raipur) constituency, on charges of human trafficking and money laundering.
The CID then arrested his accomplice Siraj Uddin alias Amir Hossain, Dubai sex trafficking gang leader Azam Khan and members of multiple human trafficking rings in Libya.
Besides, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested Kamal Uddin alias Haji Kamal in connection with the 26 Bangladeshis killed by human traffickers in Libya. Other godfathers went into hiding after these arrests.
However, according to the interrogation of the accused, the statements of the victims and the intelligence of Middle Eastern countries, the CID made the list of the three godfathers of the human trafficking rings.
The police will seek the help of Interpol to confirm their position and bring them back to the country.
According to sources, one of the most wanted godfathers Tanjirul Islam, who leads a ring of human traffickers, is residing in the Middle East.
Police said each of the godfathers controls a syndicate. In Bangladesh, they lure simple village youth or young women through brokers or agents and charge a large amount of money.
After reaching abroad, the villagers are turned into slaves, confined and tortured. The godfathers again take large sums of money from each of the victims. The godfathers are backed up by some citizens of the destination countries and some members of the administration.
Mohiul Alam, assistant inspector general of NCB, told Dhaka Tribune that Bangladesh has not yet issued a red notice to Interpol for the arrest of human traffickers.
According to him, currently the Interpol has a red notice or warrant against 61 criminals from Bangladesh. In addition, a few countries issued red notices against 13 more Bangladeshis for alleged involvement in serious crimes in those countries.
The CID did not comment on the red notice against the traffickers. However, recently CID Chief (Additional Inspector General of Police) Barrister Mahbubur Rahman said the godfathers of the human trafficking ring are under surveillance.
They have also received some information from foreign agencies about the human traffickers.
74 red listed criminals yet to be captured
Despite hanging a red notice in Interpol, it was not possible to bring back the accused hiding abroad for ages.
Bangladesh Police has information on the positions of most of the listed criminals. In accordance to that, letters are being circulated with the respective countries. However, for gaps in the laws of those countries, the accused have managed to remain elusive.
On October 3, 2019, Ahmed Monty alias Jisan, one of the top criminals in Dhaka's underworld, was arrested in Dubai. However, he could not still be brought back to the country.
NCB official Mohiul Alam said the agency updates the information about the perpetrators of the Interpol red notice every five years.
Regular communication (correspondence) is being maintained about the location and arrest of those criminals. Once the location is confirmed, the country concerned is also contacted directly. However, the detention or return of the detainees is a matter of their own law and discretion, he added.
Prisoner extradition and transfer agreements
According to the Home Ministry, Bangladesh only has prisoner transfer agreements with India and Thailand. There are extradition agreements with few countries in the Middle East and Malaysia.
Apart from that, even if Bangladeshi criminals are identified or arrested through Interpol in other countries, bringing them back is a complex issue.
For the sake of human rights, ban on return of prisoners with death sentence, and for various other reasons, even the killers of Bangabandhu who are living in Canada and the United States could not be brought back.
In this case, the governments of the two countries can exchange prisoners or criminals bilaterally if they want.
Where are the killers of Bangabandhu?
Abdul Majed, one of the killers of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was sentenced in the first week of April after being arrested from Dhaka's Mirpur area.
Five other murderers of Bangabandhu are still fugitive. Among them, Rashed Chowdhury has taken political asylum in the United States and Nur Chowdhury in Canada.
There are also intelligence reports that Shariful Haque Dalim might be in Pakistan, Libya, or Spain, Khandaker Abdur Rashid in Africa via Pakistan and Risaldar Mosleh Uddin was seen in different European countries at different times.
Where are the top listed criminals?
According to police sources, Mollah Masood, Shahadat, and Tanvirul Islam Joy were in India, Jisan is in Dubai and Subrata Bain is in Nepal.
These five are among the 61 criminals, who have been given red notice for various crimes, including war criminals, self-confessed killers of Bangabandhu, convicted accused in Ekushey August grenade attack case and other top criminals.
Criminals hiding abroad are fleeing using multiple passports. Indian passport was obtained from top criminal Subrata Bain after he was arrested in Nepal a decade ago.
On the basis of that passport, Subrata was brought back to India through the Kakarvitta border in Nepal. The top criminal Shahadat was arrested by the Kolkata police five years ago but was later released. Shahadat left for Italy via Dubai using an Indian passport.
Why are the wanted criminals not being returned?
Many listed top criminals are roaming free in Thailand, India, and the Middle East. Even the killers of Bangabandhu are openly roaming in the United States and Canada. So where is the difficulty in bringing them back?
Former secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs Dr Kamal Uddin Ahmed told Dhaka Tribune that a person with a red notice should be first detained or arrested in the country concerned.
After the arrest, it is easy to bring them back from those countries with whom Bangladesh has a transfer or extradition agreement. However, government-to-government talks are needed to bring them back from those countries with whom there is no agreement.