No happy ending: She trafficked herself to rescue her daughter
After the incredibly brave rescue efforts to retrieve her daughter from traffickers in India -- an extraordinary story that stunned people in Bangladesh and the neighbouring country alike -- the mother from the capital's Pallabi thought her ordeals were over.
And it came as a relief when Rab members arrested three traffickers of the cross-border gang on August 16 following her complaints.
Her euphoria, however, did not last long.
The 35-year-old mother is allegedly receiving death threats from family members and associates of two leaders of the trafficking gang -- Sohagh alias "Nagin Sohagh" and his uncle Iqbal Hossain Kalu of the nearby area in Pallabi's Baunia Bandh.
"They are threatening us with dire consequences," she told The Daily Star recently.
She mentioned that Kalu's sister and Sohagh's mother, Bithy alias "Nagin Bithi", and Kalu's wife are issuing threats. Both Kalu and his nephew Sohagh are behind bars.
The mother alleged that she came to know from two locals, who were released from prison, that Kalu and Sohagh had told them that they would soon come out of jail and gun her and all her family members down.
To make matters worse, three masked men, equipped with knives, attacked her bus helper husband on October 25 night on his way home.
"Riding an auto-rickshaw, three people, one of whom was bulky, stopped near my husband and grabbed his shirt. Two of them were holding switchgear (knives). My husband managed to run away with part of his shirt torn," she said.
Since then, her husband has not left the house, even for work. Scared, she along with their children mostly remain indoors too, she said.
"To rescue my daughter, I got myself trafficked to India. It was as if a turbulent storm had blown over me. Now in my own country, my troubles seem to be even more severe," said the mother, a worker in a Jamdani Patti in Pallabi.
The mother and her daughter's shocking tale of kidnapping, human trafficking, and the rescue efforts hogged the headlines after the pair were caught trying to re-enter Bangladesh from India in June.
Sohagh and Kalu lured the girl with promises of a good job and trafficked her to India on January 17 through the Satkhira border. She was sold at a brothel for Tk 2.5 lakh.
As the victim somehow managed to inform her mother about the trafficking and subsequent torture, the desperate mother willingly trafficked herself to India by the same gang around 40 days later.
The gang sold the mother at Tk 1.5 lakh. She also had to undergo sexual violence during her four-month stay in India. One day she jumped out of a running train while being taken to Mumbai from Delhi by the gang and managed to flee.
Finally, she reached Panjipara of Dinajpur North district in West Bengal and rescued her daughter with the help of locals on June 18.
After the return, the mother filed a case against Sohagh, Kalu, Billal Hossain, his wife Razia Khatun, another woman named Asma and eight to nine other unidentified members of the gang. Following the case, Rab arrested Sohagh, Kalu, Billal and Razia.
But now the mother and her family members are living in constant fear.
"How will we live? From where will we manage food if we do not go out for work?" she asked, in a choked voice.
The woman said they have already left their house at Shah Poran Slum fearing attacks and moved to a rented home. She did not disclose her present address when she talked to this correspondent at a neighbour's home in Shahporan Slum at Baunia Bandh on October 31.
"Both Sohagh and Kalu amassed a huge amount of money earned through human trafficking, muscle power and gang members. I am really scared," she said.
Asked whether she lodged any complaint with the police, the woman said she informed the matter to an officer of Rab-4 who led the operation to arrest the four members of the human trafficking gang.
She would also lodge a general diary with Pallabi Police Station soon.
Rab-4 Deputy Assistant Director (DAD) Abdullah Al Mamun said she called him on October 25 night and informed him about the incident.
"She along with her daughter visited our office on Sunday and informed our senior officer and showed the torn shirt. She, however, could not recognise anyone," Mamun told The Daily Star.
Rab-4 Company Commander Zahidul Islam said, "We have taken measures to ensure the security of her and her family members." As part of the measures, Rab has increased its presence in the area, he added.
Getting exact data about the numbers of women and children trafficked to India is hard to come by. Following the arrests, Rab, however, claimed that Kalu along with his accomplices so far trafficked around 200 girls and women in the last eight to 10 years.
According to a 2018 BSF study, around 50,000 Bangladesh girls are trafficked to or through India every year, media reported.