They alleged that tourists are reluctant to visit the park nowadays as they get mugged and harassed by local hooligans who engage in organized crimes right before the authorities
Satchari National Park, known to visitors for its dense forest and wildlife diversity, has now turned into a den for criminals, driving tourists away from visiting this park.
Built on 243 hectares of land, the park, which used to host several lakh tourists over the past winters, is now infamous for the regular harassment of tourists by hoodlums, mugging, drugs, arms trading, and even gang-rape, locals say.
They alleged that tourists are reluctant to visit the park nowadays as they get mugged and harassed by local hooligans who engage in organized crimes right before the authorities.
Two incidents of gang-rape were recorded in the last two months; on December 11, 2019, and on January 7 of this year, a school girl and a college girl and were gang-raped respectively by local miscreants, when they went to visit the park with their love interests. The perpetrators tied and assaulted both the men while raping the women, Chunarughat Police sources say.
The park is now almost deserted and the numbers of visits saw a downfall after Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) recovered loads of illegal arms from deep inside the forest recently, said Chunarughat Police OC Sheikh Nazmul Haque.
He said: "RAB has recovered huge load of ammunition from the deep forest at least five times, but no arrests were made."
Kutub Uddin, a tourist, said he and his family used to visit the park regularly but he along with other tourists is now scared and would seriously think carefully before visiting the place in the near future.
Begum Gini, a prominent social worker and writer of the district, said: "Despite being a prominent tourist attraction, no security reforms can be seen till date that can ensure safety to the tourists and alleviate their concerns."
Denying the allegations, Satchari Forest Officer Mahmud Hossain said guides and patrol teams are always there to help out the visitors but sometimes either the tourists refuse to take guides or they cross the safety line of the forest, thereby falling victim to these instances.
However, due to the spate of these unlawful incidents, Habiganj's Chunarughat Police Officer-in-Charge Sheikh Nazmul Haque assured Dhaka Tribune that they would talk to the authorities to install a permanent camp in the park to control the situation better.
"We are always on the watch to avoid any kind of criminal offence," the OC said.