Pirates run rampant in deep sea

Kazi Alim-uz-Zaman and Himel Barua . From Bashkhali, Chattogram | Update:

Basana Jaldas shows a photo of one of her sons who was killed by pirates. She lost two sons in the incident. Photo: Saurabh DasFishermen in Chattogram have pirates are making their lives impossible. These robbers seize their boats, take them hostage and demand ransom from the owners of the boats.

Sometimes the sea pirates loot their fish and nets if the owner refuses to pay ransom. They also often beat up or even kill the fisherman.

Twenty fishermen went missing in such incidents over one month. Locals think the pirates killed them.

Pirates killed 32 fishermen and threw their bodies into the sea on 2 April in 2013.

Several fishing boat owners said, the coast guard responsible for their security did not take any action despite repeated complaints.

These Prothom Alo correspondents found out that armed pirates attack trawlers in the deep sea. After seizing the boats they use the fishermen's mobile phones to demand ransom.

Fishermen and boat owners in Bashkhai said that the main bastions of sea robbers are in coastal areas of Kutubdia, especially in Rimshakhali and Durumbazar area.

President of the boat owners’ association, Yar Ali, spoke to Prothom Alo about this predicament. 

“The pirates seize a boat, call its owner and demand ransom of Tk 200,000. If the owners disagree, they take away the fish and kill the fishermen. In most cases, the owners are left with no options but to pay the ransom,” he said. East zone coastguard Lt Mohammad Alauddin said, “No one informed us of such incidents yet. We asked Bashkhali police station to inform us if there was any case of abduction so we can act accordingly.”

However, there are no records of missing fishermen in Upazila Fisheries Office.

Fisheries officer Altaf Hossain told Prothom Alo, “A number of families of fishermen who were killed by pirates have applied for government assistance. We have a list of their names.”

*This piece, origially published in the print edition of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Farjana Liakat

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