‘An honourable man’: Locals unaware of Haji Kamal’s ‘human trafficker’ identity
Kamal Uddin alias Haji Kamal (55), of Khordo Alichara in Kushtia Sadar upazila, is known in his village as a generous man.
He lived in a rented house in Dhaka and every time he visited the village, he prepared a feast for everyone by slaughtering goats.
Locals and relatives told this correspondent that they share a great relationship with him.
Kamal earned this goodwill through philanthropy. He regularly donated to various mosques and madrasas.
According to Rab, however, Kamal is responsible for trafficking more than 400 people to Libya over the last decade.
He was arrested on June 1. His arrest shocked locals, with many coming to his house as news broke.
He allegedly sent to Libya some of the Bangladeshis who were killed and injured in an attack by traffickers there on May 28. The man even forced some of the victims' families to pay ransom recently when their loved ones were being tortured in Libya, according to Rab.
"We got proof that families of two Bangladeshi victims -- Lalchan and Tarikul -- first paid Kamal Tk three lakh each before they left Bangladesh. As they reached Libya, each family gave him Tk four lakh again," Lt Col Rakibul Hasan, commanding officer of Rab-3, had said after his arrest.
A tiles contractor, Kalam used to encourage his co-workers to go abroad for a better life and thus he trafficked in the guise of getting them overseas jobs, he said.
Family sources claim Kamal has no asset, except a house and some land in his village. That he was influential, though, isn't a doubt.
"We have also seen many top local leaders of the ruling party in Kushtia coming to his house," Anisuzzaman, a local, said. Earlier, Kamal was involved with the BNP but later joined the ruling party.
The third among four brothers and three sisters, Kamal left home for Dhaka in 1994 after failing to graduate. He started a tiles business there and used to supply to various construction projects on a contractual basis, his elder brother retired school teacher Lutfar Rahman said.
"We came to know that Kamal had gone to Saudi Arabia in the year 1997. He returned to the country after working as a mason for two-and-a-half years in KSA," he said.
After returning to the country, Kamal supposedly got involved in the human trafficking business, law enforcers say.
His family, however, claim that Kamal had acted as a "broker" only. He had no agency of his own and did business with others.
Rafiza Khatun, Kamal's sister, claimed that her brother may have had accounts in various banks but there was probably no money there. "If he had crores in the banks, why would he live in a rented house in Dhaka?" she asked.
"My brother's only responsibility was to manage 'resources' and get them to Libya," said Rafiza. "No one has ever complained against my brother," she added.
According to her, people who go to Libya have no issues with working there. "Some of them try to cross the border from Libya to Italy and create problems," she said.