Muggers desecrate graveyards by using them as base
It was around 5 o'clock in the morning.
Like every other day, rickshaw-puller Asadul Islam started his day by heading out from his Pallabi home towards his rickshaw garage at Baunia area in Mirpur on a three-wheeler. Asadul was the lone passenger.
As the three-wheeler reached near Kalshi graveyard at Mirpur-11, three youths blocked the way and snatched Asadul's mobile set and Tk 300 at knife-point. Before he could do anything, the hijackers entered the graveyard and disappeared.
"I bought this mobile set with my blood and sweat. All of the money I earn has to go behind my four-member family. It'll have to be a while till I can save enough to buy a new phone," said a despondent Asadul.
"Ever since the hijacking, I start my day around 7am instead of 5am to avoid being mugged. I feel scared to pass the area at night too," he said.
Asadul's incident is not an isolated one. Many residents of the area, especially garment workers, regularly fall prey to the muggers of this ilk. Locals said the hijackers choose the graveyard area as their hitting zone as it provides a safe exit.
Locals said the height of the graveyard's boundary walls are three to five feet at places. As a result, muggers can easily jump into the graveyard even if they are being chased by police or locals.
Md Suman, a resident of section-12 in Pallabi, recounted his tale around the Kalshi graveyard. "I was first mugged by a group of snatchers on one night in mid-July. They took away my mobile phone set and Tk 4,000. Then in August, I was again mugged, this time around 6 o'clock in the morning. This time, they snatched my phone set and jumped inside the graveyard," he said.
A worker at the graveyard said most of the area remains dark at night, which gives the muggers such an advantage there.
After jumping inside, the muggers sneak away from one side to another in the darkness, he said.
According to locals, along with acting as an escape route and hiding place, the graveyard is also used as a drug spot by the muggers.
This scenario is not limited to Kalshi. Some other big Graveyards, like Mirpur Intellectual graveyard and Rayerbazar graveyard in Mohammadpur -- both under DNCC -- are used for similar purposes.
During visits to them, this correspondent found that there is no security guard in Mirpur Intellectuals' Graveyard, while Rayerbazar graveyard is guarded by a single person. While visiting the Mirpur graveyard at midnight, this correspondent also saw some teenagers doing drugs under the cover of darkness.
Sanowar Hossain, senior mohorar (supervisory staffer) of the 118 acre Mirpur Intellectuals' Graveyard, said it doesn't have boundary walls at different points. At Rayerbazar graveyard, the situation is almost similar.
There is only one security guard in the 96-acre graveyard. As a result, it remains unprotected and is being used as a safe zone for criminals.
On February 15, police recovered the body of a youth hanging from a tree inside the graveyard.
Abdul Aziz, mohorar of Rayerbazar graveyard, said it is difficult for one person to monitor everything in such a big space.
Contacted, Deputy Commissioner (DC Mirpur division) Mahtab Uddin said they are aware of the issue and have already taken some steps.
"We have increased police patrolling at the graveyards, with patrol teams conducting two patrols at night," he said, adding that they will further strengthen their patrolling.
He also suggested increasing the security at the graveyards by involving more security guards, including Ansar personnel, and constructing higher boundaries.
Meanwhile, Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Atiqul Islam said he will direct to his social welfare officer to take necessary steps in this regard to increase the height of the boundary walls at the graveyards.