Bangladesh: Moslemuddin Sarkar returns home after 23 years


Bangladeshi rickshaw drivers transport passengers during a downpour in Dhaka on July 28, 2012.


Munir uz ZAMAN

Moslemuddin Sarkar, a Bangladeshi man listed as officially missing for 23 years, has made an emotional return to his ancestral village.

Sarkar, 52, left home in Bishnurampur, in the northern Mymensingh district of Bangladesh, in 1989.

According to the Press Trust of India he told his family then that he was returning to his job as a dock worker at Chittagong Seaport.

He now says that he illegally entered India looking for work.

Eight years later, he was arrested after crossing into Pakistan without proper documentation and jailed for the next 15 years, according to the Associated Press.

This year, his family, reportedly tipped off as to his whereabouts, appealed to the Bangladeshi government and the International Committee of the Red Cross for help.

"The International Red Cross (ICRC) arranged his return home under our restoring family links program," PTI quoted Roksana Zahan, an ICRC field tracing officer as saying.

The High Commission in Islamabad helped negotiate Sarkar's return Tuesday to Dhaka, it added.

"I went to Pakistan believing that I would get a better job there. But they caught me at the border. I was beaten and tortured in prison," Sarkar told Agence France-Presse.

"I wrote dozens of letters to my village address, but did not have any clue that they were never posted. At one stage I lost all hope of returning home.”

Hundreds of Bishnurampur villagers reportedly turned out to greet Sarkar upon his return there, along with his "tearful and jubilant family,"  AFP reported.

A younger brother, Julhas Uddin, told AFP that Sarkar's mother "passed out as he hugged her."

"It was a heartbreaking scene. He could not control his tears for hours," Julhas Uddin said.

Sarkar, meantime, told the BBC: "I suffered a lot in the prison and was crying for help. But no-one came to my rescue. Still I don't understand why I was kept in jail for such a long time. At last, I am back with my family and I feel great." 

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