Abdul Hakim used to operate a trawler to earn a living. But he met a local robber a decade ago and subsequently joined his bandit force.
Armed with a brave and well-built body, Abdul Hakim gradually became the terror of the Maheshkhali coast. Five years ago, he formed a 20-member gang of bandits and changed his name to Baisya Dakat.
Before surrendering on Thursday afternoon, he talked to The Business Standard at the Banshkhali Adarsha High School ground and shared his memories of entering the dark world.
"We were the sons of good people and we were on a good path. After several misunderstandings and the temptations of nefarious people, I fell into dark times," he said.
"People hated me and my children for taking this route. I was so afraid of being caught by the authorities, I could not go to the shops, nor could I walk on the streets. Offered the chance to reform myself, I decided to grab it with both hands."
Abdul Hakim said, "InshaAllah I hope to be able to lead a normal life from now and I never want to return to that darkness again."
RAB Legal and Media Wing Director, Lt Col Ashiq Billah said that the Banshkhali, Maheshkhali and Kutubdia areas of Chattogram are going to be free of robbers, just like the Sundarbans.
He added that with the exception of murder and rape cases, the remaining charges against the 34 robbers (who have surrendered) will be withdrawn after contacting the Home Ministry.
The robbers surrendered to the Home Minister, Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, senior Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and police officials after handing over 90 weapons and 2,056 rounds of ammunition.
43 robbers surrendered via RAB in October 2018.
The Home Minister warned that robbers or bandits will not be allowed to build shelters in the coastal areas.
Addressing the bandits, he said, "If you do not surrender, you will learn first-hand the consequences of crossing law enforcement authorities. You will be tracked down wherever you are.
"So, surrender or face the music. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to those who have surrendered."
Inspector General of Police, Benazir Ahmed said, "There can be no robbers In Sheikh Hasina's Bangladesh. Everyone must cooperate so that those who have surrendered can return to mainstream society."
Shamsul Haque Puku, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs; Mostafa Kamal Uddin, Senior Secretary to the Public Security Division; Col Tofail Mostafa Sarwar, Additional Director General of RAB.
Between May 31, 2016 and November 1, 2018, 327 members of the 32 bandits of the Sundarbans surrendered with 462 weapons and a large stockpile of ammunition.
They are now engaged in various occupations, including fish and crab farming. Others are busy with other trades.
Following their surrender, the government provided each person Tk1 lakh in cash and legal aid for rehabilitation.