05/20/2023, 16.53
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Counterterrorism unit rescues child victim of human trafficking in Dhaka

by Sumon Corraya

Md. Siddique, three, was lured and sold to a childless couple. His father was overwhelmed with joy when he was rescued three weeks after he was taken. Kidnappers, middleman, and buyers were all arrested. Child abduction is a growing problem in Bangladesh. For Hindus and majority Muslims, having children is essential and adoptions rare.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – A unit of Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) rescued a three-year-old child on Thursday in Gopalganj district and returned him safely to his family.  

Identified as Md. Siddique, the child was abducted on 26 April in Udyan, Mohammadpur (Dhaka) after a stranger lured him away from his siblings with chocolates. He was found two days ago, three weeks after he went missing,

At a press conference held yesterday at RAB headquarters in Karwan Bazar, investigators released further details about the operation.

The arrested include the kidnapper, 29-year-old Piyush Kanti Pal, his 25-year-old wife Riddhita Pal; and the child’s buyers, 52-year-old Pallab Kanti Biswas, his 46-year-old wife Bebi Sarkar, and his 32-year-old brother Sujan Sutar.

Since Pallab and Bebi could not have children, they hired someone to get a child and become parents, but they were thwarted by the counter-terrorism unit, who proved decisive in getting the child back to his family.

"When my son was lost, it seemed the sky had fallen on my head,” said Siddique’s father Delwar Hossain. “I almost went mad. I am thankful to the RAB.”

“The investigation confirmed that Piyush had kidnapped the child,” said RAB-2 Unit Captain Anwar Hossain Khan. “Later, he and his wife sold the child to a childless couple from Gopalganj, Pallab and Bebi, for 200,000 taka (l US$ 1,865). Sujan played the role of mediator."

A key figure in this ugly news story, which had a happy ending, is Piyush Kanti Pal, who was already known to the police.

The 29-year-old was studying at a private university when he met his wife Riddhita Pal whom he married in 2020. While working at a spa, he became involved in human trafficking. Arrested last year during a probe by the Banani police, he was out on bail pending trial.

Recently, Piyush and his wife put a “child adoption” ad on social media, which drew the attention of the childless couple.

"Riddhita sent a picture of the child to Sujan, saying that he was the son of his housekeeper, and that he was available for adoption in exchange for money,” RAB-2 Captain Khan explained. “Riddhita added that the housekeeper’s husband had left her, and at some point, the two parties agreed to the sale,” he added.

Stories like Siddique’s are not rare in Bangladesh, where children are often abducted and become victims of trafficking by unscrupulous people, so much so that they have become daily news in newspapers.

The authorities have not released any official statistics, partly because it is hard to put a collect data. What is certain is that baby boys are preferred to baby girls, although girls can also fall prey to sex traffickers.

With at least one couple in six suffering from infertility, pressure falls on families, with some men choosing to repudiate their wives or take a second spouse to have children.

Legal adoption exists but is rarely used; instead, many prefer buying children from gangs or through intermediaries, which feeds trafficking, including of newborns.

Among Hindus and Muslims, having children is a must to ensure full possession of property and save the family, boosting the market price for babies.

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