The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police has arrested another five alleged members of a racket involved in trafficking Bangladeshi women and teenage girls to India, and other countries, for the sex trade.
The arrestees are: Md Shaheen, Rafiqul Islam, Biplob Ghosh, Aktarul, and Md Bablu.
Sheikh Md Rezaul Haider, additional deputy inspector general of CID, revealed this on Monday at a press briefing at its headquarters in the capital.
Earlier on August 24, CID arrested Mohemunizzaman alias Pratik Khandaker, the alleged ringleader of the gang, in connection with a case filed against him and several others on charges of abduction and repression of women.
A few days ago, the CID rescued a 14-year-old girl from the Benapole border area in Jashore and arrested three accused – Pratik's wife Jannatul alias Jerin, Rifat and an underaged girl – in connection with the case.
Among them, the underaged girl is currently staying at the Juvenile Correction Centre in Gazipur following a court order, and Jerin is on bail.
How the racket operates
The 14-year-old female student of a high school in the capital's Sabujbagh area went missing on November 23 last year.
Three days later, her mother filed the case on charges of women and child oppression as well as child abduction.
According to the first information report, Jannatul alias Jerin and her husband Pratik Khandaker lived in a sublet in the girl's residence in Sabujbagh.
The couple had repeatedly tried to lure the girl's family into an offer of sending her to Malaysia for a better life. But her mother refused the offer every time.
"I rejected their proposals repeatedly and even complained to the couple's family members," the woman said while talking to The Business Standard.
But on November 23, she went to her school and did not return home by the evening.
"Contacting the school authorities, we came to know that the alleged couple and two others first lured my daughter, and then forcibly abducted her," the woman added.
"The Criminal Investigation Department arrested the alleged ringleader on charges of raping the girl and attempting to traffic her to India in November last year," said Sheikh Md Rezaul Haider.
"The racket has trafficked at least 20 women and teenage girls to India's Rajkot over the past few years."
The CID found another 26-year-old victim, who had also been trafficked to Rajkot in the Gujarat state of India last year.
"The victim had been promised she would be sent to Saudi Arabia and later she found herself in Rajkot and was forced into prostitution in the Indian state," said the police officer.
He said Pratik Khandaker and Jerin, identifying themselves as a couple, in the same style, rented a sublet in the victim's flat in Madartek area and developed a good relationship with the family.
The gang then lured the victim's mother with a high paying job for the girl in Malaysia. In November last year, they took the girl to Benapole and raped her, the police official said.
They attempted to traffic her to India but police, on a tip-off, rescued the victim from the gang's den, the CID official said.
He said that Mohemunuzzaman and Jerin once worked at a hotel in Malaysia and got involved in the human trafficking gang when they returned home five years ago.
Among the arrestees, Md Shaheen was a driver for the gang and he played a key role in transporting their victims to different bordering areas in Jessore where the victims were kept at the house of Rafiqul Islam, another arrestee.
The racket members stayed for a few days at that house and waited for a suitable time to hand the victims over to their Indian counterparts.
Arrestees Biplob Ghosh and Aktarul also played roles in trafficking the women and girls to India.
Md Bablu, another arrestee, used to play the role of a boatman for the gang. At a specific date and time, the racket members trafficked the victims to India by boat at night.
However, when asked about the involvement of the members of Bangladesh Border Guard or Border Security Force of India in helping the racket in trafficking the women, CID's additional DIG did not give any information on this matter.
"We have just arrested the racket members and they are being interrogated. If we get any such information, we will surely bring it to the attention of the authorities concerned," he added.
When asked, the official did not provide the journalists with any information about whether any Bangladeshi nationals are operating the racket from India.