A source at the Criminal Investigation Department said Siraj is a ringleader of a Kuwait-based human trafficking racket, which he has been running for the last 10 years
- Siraj has two textile mills, a market and luxurious houses in his village and the capital
- People in Amdia village are apparently terrified of Siraj and his brothers
- Siraj's gang trafficked around 900 Bangladeshis to Kuwait
- Since the CID arrested Siraj, local influential leaders have been trying to get him released
A 32-year-old fish farmer was leading an ordinary life and living happily with his wife and children in his village in Narsingdi until he met Siraj Uddin; an expatriate from Kuwait with a lavish lifestyle and a luxurious building in the village.
Lured by Siraj with promises of a better life, the youth sold his fish farm and some other properties to provide Tk6 lakh to go to Kuwait. However, soon after going there two years ago, he realised that he had been cheated. He endured anguish and uncertainty for a year as he had no job or proper accommodation and finally returned to his home village empty-handed last year.
Around a thousand people like him were also cheated by Siraj, who had been running a human trafficking racket for decades.
Sharif Hossain, a family member of a different victim, shared a similar story.
He said, "My younger brother went to Kuwait through Siraj's racket one year ago, but he did not get a job there. We sold our land before my brother went there."
"We hoped that he would get a job and take responsibility for our family. However, we were cheated by the gang," he added.
The Business Standard talked to five of Siraj's victims who are in Kuwait now. They said since they reached the country, they have been suffering from lack of accommodation and food and they found no job.
They want to return, but they have no money to buy tickets to come back to Bangladesh.
Rise of Siraj, the human trafficker
According to local people, Ameer Hossain alias Siraj Uddin was a rickshaw puller 25 years ago. Despite his financial condition, he managed to go to Kuwait by changing his name to Ameer Hossain in 1998. Before that, he had gone to Malaysia in 1995.
After a few years, he formed a human trafficking gang in Kuwait and brought around thousands of people there from Bangladesh. He allegedly took hundreds of crores of taka from those people.
Now Siraj owns two textile mills and a market at Pachdona of Narsingdi. Aside from these, he also has two lavish houses – one in the Uttara area in the capital and another in his village.
The Business Standard learned that Siraj bought the six-storied building, in Uttara 12 sector, two years ago. He spent Tk20 crore to buy the house, said Muhammad Hussain, a tenant of the house.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on Monday night arrested Siraj Uddin from Madhabdi upazila of Narsingdi. The CID claimed that Siraj's gang trafficked over 900 Bangladeshis to Kuwait.
After Siraj was arrested, a TBS reporter visited his village and talked to several victims and local people.
On condition of anonymity, local people said for the last four years they have been noticing Siraj's rise to prominence. Once his family could not manage three meals a day due to poverty, but now he has become an industrialist.
Siraj's elder brother Helal Uddin is a member of Amdia union parishad in Narsingdi. People in the area are apparently terrified of the duo.
According to the Amdia Land Office, once Siraj's family had no land, but now they have bought large stretches of land in Amdia village.
When contacted, Helal Uddin told The Business Standard a group of people has been spreading propaganda to tarnish their image.
A source at the CID said Siraj is a ringleader of a Kuwait-based human trafficking racket, which he has been running for the last 10 years.
In the last two years the gang trafficked around 900 Bangladeshis to Kuwait taking Tk6 lakh from each person.
Since Siraj's arrest, local influential leaders have been trying to get him released.
Siraj managed hundreds of visas from three Kuwaiti companies by bribing officials concerned, said sources.
The source at the CID further said several victims who went to Kuwait through Siraj's gang filed a number of cases against the gang with the Criminal Investigation Department of Kuwait.
Siraj was arrested in Kuwait and the country's government imposed a travel ban on him.
However, after he faced a trial there on charges of his involvement in human trafficking, Siraj secured bail and managed to flee Kuwait in April last year.
Additional Superintendent of CID Razib Farhan told The Business Standard, "We found that Siraj was connected with Papul. After arresting him, many victims contacted us. The investigation is ongoing. After the investigation, the CID may file a money laundering case against him."