City rickshaw-owners become hostage to thieves

Financial - Bangladesh
Thursday, March 10, 2005

Rickshaw-owners of the capital have become hostage to more than one thousand rickshaw-thieves of nearly 50 groups, reports BDNEWS.
These groups are extracting more than one hundred thousand taka by stealing over 1,000 rickshaws every day. They have underhand arrangement with the police. Several concerned sources including rickshaw-owners and pullers have confirmed this.

Giasuddin, a rickshaw-puller of Demra and Shyampur areas, said the rickshaw-thieves resort to various techniques to steal rickshaws such as feeding rickshaw-pullers drug-mixed food after disguising as passengers, applying drug-mixed balm to rickshaw-pullers' eyes and posing as policemen or their relatives.

According to the information provided by rickshaw-owners and -pullers, the thieves gather the stolen rickshaws at the dens of their godfathers at different places of Demra including City Palli slum, Shyampur, Manda, Khilgaon, Mothertek, Badda, Khilkhet, Mirpur, Mohammadpur, Kamrangirchar and Lalbagh.

Sources said there are 30 stolen rickshaw-dealers including Suman, Mamun and Akhter at Demra Dhalpur City Palli and 20 including Kalam, Selim and Anis at south City Palli. About 20 including Tutul and Moslem sell stolen rickshaws and number-plates, sources added.

There are 20 godfathers of rickshaw-thieves including Sohel and Miraz related to an influential person of Shyampur, 10 godfathers including Sundar Ali and Afzal at Manda and 10 including Babu and Mechanic at Kajla of Konapara.

Likewise, there are 20 godfathers of rickshaw-thieves including Badsha, Ponu, Salam and Ramzan at Badda, 10 godfathers including police source Tasira, Makbul, Kalu and Kamal at Mohammadpur and in embankment area and 10 godfathers including Mosharraf and Jafar at Kamrangirchar.
They said these godfathers buy a stolen rickshaw from the thieves for Tk 500 to Tk 1,000. Then they extract Tk 1,000 to Tk 2,000 to return the rickshaws to the owners. This amount increases to Tk 2,000 to Tk 3,500 if the rickshaw-owners do not belong to any association. But for that the rickshaw-owners have to have negotiators.

Rickshaw and Van Owner and Labourer Action Committee leader Insur Ali and Solidarity Council leader Fazlur Rahman said, the eviction of rickshaws has ended but the rickshaw-owners and -pullers are still at the mercy of the thieves. The rickshaw-thieves and their godfathers are carrying on their business with the help of the police.

They also said the money changing hands in this 'business' amounts to over Tk 10 million a month.

When contacted DMP Commissioner SM Mizanur Rahman said such gangs exist and also admitted that the Thana police would not take any action against them. But if the owners lodge specific complaints the higher level of the police would take necessary steps.

Source: The Financial Express