Eighty three expatriate workers, who had been cheated by brokers, have been sent to jail weeks after their return home from Vietnam and Qatar. Police have brought stupendous allegations against them. The law enforcement say they had tarnished the image of the country. As many as 219 others returning from Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain had previously been taken to jail on similar grounds.
Among the recent 83 returnees, 81 went to Vietnam with dreams of a better future. They did not adopt any unfair means, they went there after paying Tk 400,000 to 450,000 and the Bureau Of Manpower, Employer & Training provided them with letters. However, when they landed, they realized that they had been made false promises. They did not get the promised job and instead were handed over to brokers.
Being cheated on a foreign land, 27 workers went to the Bangladesh embassy in Vietnam, which was supposed to be their last resort. However, the foreign minister at that time remarked that they had gone there to occupy the embassy. Such remarks might have encouraged the law enforcement to go hard on the workers, who returned home on 18 August. They were put on quarantine at first and after two weeks taken to police custody.
As per the police statement produced before the court on 1 September, the workers had aimed to get involved in anti-government and anti-state activities. They should be sent to jail because they may go vanish if granted bail, police argued.
The previous returnees had been jailed overseas for different terms. But these Vietnam returnees had no sentence against them abroad. They filed a complaint against the brokers before returning home. That raises a number of questions.
First, did they investigate if there was a move to occupy the embassy? Second, how come the government let over thousand workers go to Vietnam without looking into the details? Why did BMET issue no-objection certificate? Third, why will not the recruiting agencies and the BMET officials who issued the NOCs be brought to book? Fourth, there are rumors that 10 brokerage companies are cheating the workers in connivance with the embassy staff. Did they carry out an investigation to this end?
When we know the answers, we may go bring the workers to book. But they did nothing to be handed a punishment.
These workers toil day and night and send remittances that are the foundations of our economy. But what do we do for them? Do we stand by them when they get cheated and lose everything they have?
There should be an independent inquiry about the whole issue. Everyone involved, from brokers to police officials to embassy staff to police and airport officials, should be handed exemplary punishment.