At least 34 members of 11 robbery gangs yesterday surrendered their weapons to Rab-7 at Chattagram's Banshkhali Adarsha High School.
Rab-7 Commander Lt Col Moshiur Rahman Jewel presided over the surrender ceremony, in which local members of parliament and high officials of police and Rab were also present.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan attended as the chief guest, while Shamsul Hoque Tuku, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the home ministry, Home Senior Secretary Mostofa Kamal Uddin, Inspector General of Police Benazir Ahmed and Rab Additional Director General Col Tofail Mostafa Sarwar were special guests.
Addressing the ceremony, Asaduzzaman warned robbers who are yet to surrender would face legal action.
Regarding those who have surrendered, he said the government would provide all necessary legal assistance for the disposal of the cases against them, unless there are charges of murder or rape.
IGP Benazir Ahmed suggested that Rab provide support and rehabilitate the surrendered robbers based on their individual expertise.
He said the Sundarbans was declared a robber-free area in 2018 and now around 25 lakh locals are being able to live there without fear.
He urged everyone to stand against those who are trying to sabotage and foil the country's development.
The 34 robbers surrendered 90 firearms and 2,056 bullets and cartridges.
Earlier on October 20, 2018, 43 robbers of Maheshkhali surrendered their arms at a similar programme, said Lt Col Jewel.
Meanwhile, Rab-6 in Khulna and Rab-8 in Barishal celebrated the second anniversary of the day the Sundarbans was declared robber-free.
Addressing the occasion, the elite force gave financial aid and clothes to robbers who previously laid down their arms.
SECOND CHANCE AT LIFE
Five years ago, Mizanur Rahman got married and took up a tuition job to support his new two-member family.
However, as the income was too low, he got himself involved in different criminal activities and joined a robbery gang in Maheshkhali to make easy money.
Six months into his marriage, he got arrested twice and served jail for over three and a half years.
Speaking to this correspondent, Mizan's wife Zinnat Ara said her five-year-old daughter has not yet gotten the chance to spend any time with her father.
"I am hopeful that my husband will now be able to get back to his normal life get the chance to get his normal life back and my family can finally be happy," she said.
Sardar Abdul Hakim, chief of the Baisya Dakat gang, said, "I was the son of a good man -- a fisherman -- and we used to lead a happy life out at sea. But five years ago, I was lured onto a dark path by some bad people.
"People started hating me and my children because I chose this path. But now I have the chance to go back to a normal life."
He urged all others, who are still on the path of crimes, to surrender.
"You will not get this opportunity again once it's gone."
Another robber from Maheskhali, Mamun, also said he was happy to be able to get another chance at a peaceful life.
Nazim Bhandari, 60, was excited that his son got the opportunity to surrender. "My son Enamul Hoque was a CNG-run auto-rickshaw driver. He got involved in crimes to make easy money, but now he will get another chance at a good life."
Speaking to The Daily Star, Nesar Majhi, a boatman who was injured in an attack by robbers, said, "Thousands of people have been tortured in the area due to such attacks [by robbers]. I am very happy to see the surrender of 34 of them."