Though Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina declared the Sundarbans free of bandits in 2018, it’s believed that banditry exists in the mangrove forest. The collectors of honey, crabs, fish and leaves are the main targets here.
Bandits abduct them and release them when ransoms are paid.
Major Shamim Sarkar of Rapid Action Battalion-6, said: “The major dacoits are disbanded but smaller groups are still in operation. They target fishermen, trawlers and those who make a living from forest resources.”
It’s believed that some of the bandit groups are patronised by coastal fishermen. There is an understanding between fishermen and dacoits and trawlers with special tickets are left alone. If fishermen fail to show tickets, the pirates keep them hostage and demand ransom.
On Oct 10 last, RAB arrested the main patron of the pirates and two accomplices. At that time, weapons plus papers used to extort money were recovered.
From May 31, 2016 till Nov 1, 2018, 328 bandits of 32 groups surrendered; at this time, 462 weapons, 22,504 rounds of cartridges were surrendered.
On Nov 1, 2018, the PM declared the Sundarbans free of banditry and that was the case for some time though pirates and dacoits are re-emerging.