Around 18 robbers took the launch master (captain of the boat) hostage at gunpoint and looted cash, gold ornaments and other valuables from the passengers
A gang of armed robbers boarded a moving launch from speedboats on the Padma River and looted cash and other valuables from passengers in broad daylight.
The incident took place on a launch, ML Shah Ali-4, at around 10:45pm on Monday. The launch had departed from Shariatpur’s Sureshwar for Chandpur.
Around 18 robbers took the launch master (captain of the boat) hostage at gunpoint and looted cash, gold ornaments and other valuables from more than 50 passengers. The passengers were also assaulted by the robbers, leaving many of them injured.
Among those robbed was Joynal Abedin, a sub-inspector of river police (Sureshwar outpost), who was in his uniform. The robbers took away his mobile phone.
Following the incident, Billal Hossain, a person suspected to be part of the robber gang, was detained by the launch passengers and later handed over to police.
However, Billal claimed to be innocent and said that he was an employee of the Water Development Board, which claim was later confirmed by Mamun Hossain, SO of the Water Development Board.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Helal Uddin, the launch master, said: “Our launch ML Shah Ali-4 departed from the Sureshwar launch terminal in Shariatpur district for Chandpur around 8am on Monday. Around 9am, we reached Naria and left the terminal with 55 passengers at 9:45am.”
“At one point of the journey, around 18 robbers boarded our launch from two speedboats near the Kachighata river border area in Chandpur. They forced me and another member of staff to stop the launch, with weapons pointed at us. They then took away all the valuables from the passengers,” he added.
Ujjal Hossain, 50, who was a passenger on the launch, said: “They [robbers] threatened us with locally made sharp weapons and guns and looted us of everything.”
Another victim of the robbery, Sima Akhter, 18, who is a student, said: "I was returning from my grandfather’s place. I was with my family. They [robbers] took away everything.
“They were wearing yellow jackets. They threatened to throw my younger brother Jihad, 7, into the river if we didn’t comply with their instructions. My mother and I were forced to give up our mobile phones, money, gold ornaments and other valuable things.”
A case has been filed over the robbery by Akhter Hossain, the manager of the ML Shah Ali-4 launch.
When contacted, Chandpur River Police SP Kamruzzaman said: “SI Joynal Abedin was able to arrest one of the members of the robbery group named Billal Khan. He is going to be interrogated. Efforts are also underway to bring those involved in the robbery to justice.”