Saturday, June 22, 2024

Launch journey unsafe for inadequate security staff

Travelling by launches on the Barisal-Dhaka route has become insecure in recent time for lack of adequate security staff. The water vessels plying the route are mostly manned with ansar members far less than required in number, placing the passengers always in a constant fear of sabotage at the time when the country is passing through a turbulent political situation.
Taking the advantage of inadequate security staff, a section of criminals is out to commit subversive activities in the launches.
It was suspected to be an act of sabotage by pro-hartal activists when two cabins of two triple-decker launches mysteriously caught fire on the route on Sunday night, just before leaving Dhaka Sadarghat river port.
Passengers and launch company sources said cabin no-53 of MV Parabat-11 and cabin no-157 of MV Kirtankhola-2 launches were damaged in the incident.
Both the cabins were found to have been booked by same individual–one Shafikul Islam– bearing mobile phone number 01936-549954 but he could not be traced out after the incident, said Saidur Rahman Rintu, vice- president of the Launch Owners Association and owner of the triple-decker launch MV Sundarban of the same route.
Faruk Ahmed, in-charge (Cabin) of Parabat-11, said at first they thought that the fire in their launch took place from a burning cigarette but after the same happening was noticed in another cabin of another launch of the same route, booked under the same name, they assumed it to be an act of sabotage by the pro-hartal activists.
The fire was noticed after smoke came out of the cabins and extinguished soon leaving furniture, beds, TV sets and fans of the cabins burnt.
On October 27, during the last 60-hour hartal enforced by the 18-party opposition alliance, a SMS from the mobile phone no 01782-414353 warned the triple-decker launch counter office of MV Suravi that the vessels would be torched by throwing bombs if those plied ignoring the shutdown, the launch owner’s association leader said.
The association sources said they decided to lodge a general diary with the police station concerned and arrange deployment of more ansar members on the vessels and intensify checking of the luggage of the passengers before boarding.
Shakhawat Hossain, officer-in- charge of Kotwali police station, said surveillance in the port has been intensified in the wake of rising fear of sabotage.
It is alleged, a section of ansar members fail to ensure security in the launches, for which they are appointed.
Even some of them sell their seats to passengers when the launches are over-crowded.
Acknowledging the facts, Syedur Rahman Rintu, managing director of Sundarban Navigation, operating company of MV Sundarban, said despite being paid salaries regularly, the ansar members sell their seats.
No actions have been taken yet against them even after lodging complaints with the authorities in this regard, Rintu added.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) sources said 11 triple-decker launches ply the Barisal-Dhaka river route by rotation.
Of them, MV Sunderban 7 and 8, MV Suravi 7 and 8, MV Kirtankhola 1 and 2, MV Kalam Khan 1, MV Parabat 11 and MV Tipu 7 have five ansar members each for security duty. Every ansar team is equipped with five 303 rifles with 750 rounds of bullet.
But all the teams fail to control law and order situation in the launches.

-With The Independent input

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