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Hotspots of hijacking: Overbridges of Hatirjheel

  • Published at 01:52 pm August 27th, 2017
Hotspots of hijacking: Overbridges of Hatirjheel
Hatirjheel - one of the major go-to destinations for recreation in Dhaka is gradually succumbing to criminal elements. The four overbridges for pedestrians are now hotspots of hijacking in at least eight locations. The absence of security guards assigned to Hatirjheel and a lapse in vigilance by the police have spurred the hijackings to occur almost everyday, according to the victims. The four overbridges skirt Hatirjheel in Modhubag, Beghunbari, Aarong and Mohanagar. The stairs to these bridges are where the hijackings are concentrated. Although there are daily incidents, there is a spike on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays when people visit to blow some steam after a week of work. As dusk falls, hijacking syndicates begin to prowl. According to locals, security guards, police and the victims, most of the hijackers are very young between the ages of 15-20. They live in Tejgaon, Kunipara and Modhubag. There are estimated 5-7 groups with 5-8 members each. The victims allege that the hijackers rob people of their money, phones and jewelry. And it is facilitated by the fact that people frequent the overbridges when they are declared off-limits. The pedestrians who flout the restriction inevitably walk into the trap set by the gangs. Rezaul Kabir, one of the more recent victims, said: “These thugs usually target couples who sit by themselves on the overbridge. Some of their members first walk past them and intentionally stumble on the target’s leg to start a row. When things begin to heat up, the rest of the gang engages, pretending to be innocent bystanders. “They interrogate the target, asking what business they have on the overbridge. They threaten to hand people over to the police and make obscene remarks to embarrass people. In the midst of this commotion, they snatch the wallets and phones off the victims and order them to get off the bridge. As the confused victims shuffle off the bridge, the hijackers take off in the other direction.” Jainal, an RMG worker, echoed a similar experience. He claimed the hijackers are armed with knives for intimidation A security company by the name of “Red Force” has been assigned as the security detail at Hatirjheel. The guards work in two 12-hour shifts from 7am. The day shift has around 30-35 guards followed by 40-45 guards in the night shift. About 10 of the guards said they hear of hijackings from time to time. They said: “We never let anything like this happen in front of us. But we cannot patrol every inch of Hatirjheel simultaneously, so some mugging happens from time to time.” Several members of the security detail confided that the guards are not posted on the overbridges. Rahmat Ullah, a guard, said: “In both shifts, guards are posted only on the ground. People are restricted from using the overbridges, so no guards are posted above.” When asked how people are still getting on the bridge despite the restriction, none of the guards had an answer. One responded with: “We ask everyone to not use them. But nobody listens to us. And we do not want to start a fight. Whoever uses the overbridge, does it at their own peril.” A sub-inspector from the Tejgaon Industrial Area police station said the police patrol the area regularly. “The bridges are off-limits to pedestrians. Even parking cars is illegal. But nobody pays attention to the restrictions. People frequent these spots, flouting the law. And if there are no patrols on the overbridges, they will not be secure. These are just calamities waiting to happen. If people steered clear of restricted zones, a lot of untoward incidents could have been avoided.” Ramna police station Officer-in-Charge Moshiur Rahman told the Bangla Tribune that there are a few complaints of mugging in Hatirjheel, but nothing significant. He said the police patrols the area regularly. This story was first published on Bangla Tribune