03 September, 2014 / Ziqa'ad 7, 1435

Bangladeshi man long believed dead returns home

Published Aug 01, 2012 06:57am

Moslemuddin Sarkar, 52, centre, who had been missing since 1989 is hugged by his brother Sekandar Ali, right, after he arrived at the airport in Dhaka, Bangladesh. For 23 years, Sarkar’s family in Bangladesh thought he was dead. But then an anonymous caller informed a local official in May that he was alive and in jail in Pakistan. — Photo by AP
Moslemuddin Sarkar, 52, centre, who had been missing since 1989 is hugged by his brother Sekandar Ali, right, after he arrived at the airport in Dhaka, Bangladesh. For 23 years, Sarkar’s family in Bangladesh thought he was dead. But then an anonymous caller informed a local official in May that he was alive and in jail in Pakistan. — Photo by AP

DHAKA: For 23 years, his family in Bangladesh thought he was dead. But then an anonymous caller informed a local official in May that he was alive and in jail in Pakistan.

On Tuesday, 52-year-old Moslemuddin Sarkar, who had been missing since 1989, returned home.

Pakistani officials freed him from the jail in Karachi on Monday night and immediately deported him.

Sarkar, bearded and sharp-eyed but ravaged by fatigue, walked out of the concourse in Dhaka’s airport and was hugged tightly by his brother, Sekandar Ali.

“I can’t believe you are alive; you are back!” Ali said.

Sarkar remained silent, tears rolling down his cheeks.

“Brother, let’s go home,” Ali said. “Mother is waiting for you.”

Sarkar had left home one morning in 1989 after a brief visit, telling his family he was returning to his job as a dock worker at Bangladesh’s main Chittagong Seaport. His family didn’t hear from him again until the International Committee of the Red Cross found him in the Karachi jail after the anonymous call.

After Sarkar’s disappearance, Ali visited the shipyard to search for him, but was told he hadn’t returned to work.

“We waited for months, years, and finally thought he was no more,” Ali said. “Otherwise, why wouldn’t he inform us where he was?”

Even after his return Tuesday, Sarkar was reluctant to explain what had happened to him and why he ended up in a jail in Pakistan.

“I crossed the border to India in 1989 and went to Delhi after staying a few months in the Indian states of Assam and Meghalaya. Later, I got married in Delhi,” he said. “But I got caught along the India-Pakistan border when I tried to enter Pakistan in 1997,” he said. “I had no travel documents.”

“I served 15 years in jail,” he said, without giving any further explanation.

“Let me meet my mother first,” he said. “I will tell you everything later.”

Pakistan and India have a history of bitter relations and often arrest and imprison each other’s citizens for lengthy periods for entering their territories. Both sides have freed scores of such prisoners, but hundreds are still believed held in jails.

After Sarkar’s family learned from the anonymous caller that he was alive and in Pakistan, they were at a loss what to do.

They repeatedly called the phone number from which the anonymous call had come, but were told that it was not in use. Then they learned that the Red Cross helps trace missing people and seek their repatriation.

They contacted the ICRC’s Dhaka office, which informed its delegation in Pakistan. Within days it found that Sarkar was languishing in the Karachi jail.

Meanwhile, in Sarkar’s home village of Bishnurampur in northern Bangladesh, everyone was ready to welcome him home.

“The whole village is waiting for him. Everybody is concerned to know when he is coming, how it happened,” Habibur Rahman, a resident of the village, said by phone.

“This is going to be a great reunion,” he said.


Do you have information you wish to share with Dawn.com? You can email our News Desk to share news tips, reports and general feedback. You can also email the Blog Desk if you have an opinion or narrative to share, or reach out to the Special Projects Desk to send us your Photos, or Videos.

More From This Section

Comments (14) (Closed)


SAEED KHAN
Aug 01, 2012 02:52pm
IT IS A SHAME THAT PAKISTAN GOVERNMENT KEPT SILENT ON HIS ARREST IT IS INHUMAN
Star GIGA
Aug 01, 2012 11:12am
Very strage, even got married but did not find time to write or contact his family. Not sure if his wife still remembers him
Lutfor
Aug 01, 2012 11:05am
its because many people in bangladesh does not care about family
Farrukh
Aug 01, 2012 10:37am
My thought were exactly the same till the end of this article i found u thought alike
R. Kalita
Aug 01, 2012 01:41pm
Millions of bangladeshies are now in Northeastern part of India where they have changed teh demography. Pretty soon there will be another Pakistan.
Sharique
Aug 01, 2012 07:52am
Strange.. it remains a mystery that Sarkar was imprisoned in 1997 whereas he went missing in 1989, why did n't he contacted his family during the 8 long years when he was in India and when he got married...
anand singh
Aug 01, 2012 08:34am
... and Bangla Deshis vehemently deny that their citizens do not cross into India ! ..any way alls well that ends well.
Tariq
Aug 01, 2012 05:18pm
Sarkar sure got some explaining to do to his family.
Jawwad
Aug 01, 2012 06:02pm
Sounds like he was just a curious soul who did care of boundaries set up by mere human beings.
Alamgir
Aug 02, 2012 12:04am
What happened to his wife in Delhi? Does he have any kid there? Shouldn't he contact them there as well?
Afool
Aug 02, 2012 12:29am
I suspect a loooong story behind this. This guy is up to no good
Madhan
Aug 02, 2012 02:51am
His story proves the other point which is raised often in India. Millions of Bangladeshi economic migrants swarm India's north eastern states like Assam and changed its demography so much so the natives have became minorities in their own land. Like Sarkar, many migrants settle down permanently in India, get ID cards, get married, avail all government facilities, participate in elections and what not. Deporting them is huge task, as all these people use porous borders and have no Bangladeshi ID papers with them and conveniently Bangladesh government not ready to take them back. The root cause of this problem is vote bank politics played by the Indian politicians. In this age of scarce resources, we can be benevolent to some extent but not the extent of letting creation of internal strife - like the one which Assam witnessed few days ago.
Anand
Aug 02, 2012 05:29am
Poor poor man. My heart goes out to him. I am glad he is back to where he wants to be. This whole imprisonment process by Indian and Pakistani governments of innocents for so long .. are just such intolerable crimes.
Sam Rahman
Aug 06, 2012 01:09pm
This is a great mystery that this Sarkar guy left home in chittagong to go to work, instead ended up in assam and then to Delhi, got married and then decided to cross the border to Pakistan not letting his parents and family know about his whereabouts. After carefully analysing this story I come to the conclusion that Sarkar was kidnapped by Indian security force for the sole purpose of training him to be a spy and eventually being send to Pakistan for espionage. What say guys?