Six juveniles planned an adventure trip to the Sundarbans just after Eid. On Wednesday morning, they turned up at Mongla's Chandpai Range, a remote point of the mangrove forest, according to their plan.
The teens walked to the forest department's Dhan Sagar Station at the range around 10 am. There is a canal adjacent to the station and a wooden bridge over it only for forest guards.
The juveniles sneaked into the forest taking the narrow bridge and trekked through the jungle. The adventure rolled out to noon, and then the afternoon, but the six teens – enjoying the adrenaline rush – forgot that they would have to return.
The distant call from a local mosque for Asr prayer reminded them to return.
They walked back on the path they had taken to enter the forest, for a while, and then lost the track – entering deeper into the jungle. When night fell, they understood that they were lost in the Sundarbans.
The boys had three mobile phones with them. They contacted their families as the mobile phone network was dimming. One of the boys also called 999 – the national emergency hotline.
Subsequently, Sarankhola Police Station and river police were informed about the missing boys.
The police search party began the rescue operation with two major challenges – pinpointing the location of the boys and bringing them back safely.
The teens were unable to specify their location and two of their mobile phones ran out of battery charge. Police reached them through the last phone they had with dimming network coverage.
As tigers come out at night in the range area, the boys were asked to climb trees and hold tightly onto them.
The rescue in the dark forest was challenging, and soon after, rain made it even harder for the police team. The teens were frightened and their last functioning mobile phone also lost its signal.
Police managed to reconnect with them as the phone retrieved a signal later. The boys said they could hear distant calls for the Esha prayer made by the local mosques using loudspeakers.
The adjacent locality of the part of the mangrove forest has two mosques. As the mosques were at the opposite sides of the locality, police were still unclear about which mosque's call to prayer the boys had heard.
The search party reached one of the mosques and called out to the juveniles. "The sound was too distant and poor," they told police over the phone.
However, they heard a clearer sound while police called out them from the second mosque. This gave the law enforcement agency a slight idea about the location of the missing boys.
People can hear sound from three to four kilometres away in the mangrove forest. The range reaches up to five kilometres at night. Therefore, police drew a five-kilometre search radius centring the second mosque and started advancing through the woods.
Walking into the Sundarbans is difficult as aerial roots, thorny bushes and creepers slow down the approaching speed. Moreover, rain and the dark night made the task more difficult for the police to find the boys. The search party trekked for hours and reached a remote part inside the jungle.
"We will call out to you. You must respond if you hear us," police told the boys earlier over the phone.
After reaching the remote part, the search party heard distant responses from the boys. It meant the two teams were close.
At last, the boys were found on trees and it was around 3:00 am. The juveniles were frightened, hungry and completely exhausted.
When the search party brought them back to the police station, it was dawn. They were served food and the police offered them primary medical treatment.
After completing the legal procedures, the boys were handed over to their respective families.
With tearful eyes, the families of the missing kids wished the police well and expressed their heartfelt gratitude.
While returning home, one of the boys stopped and told the rescuers, "When I got lost in the Sundarbans, I thought it was the end of everything. But, you gave us new life. I want to be a police officer after completing my studies to serve people like you just did."