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The Financial Express

OPINION

Beach resort or a criminal den?


-File photo -File photo

If Cox's Bazar is the country's prime tourist spot, it is also one of the most crime-ridden areas. A must-visit site like the Sunderbans is not for family tours, particularly when there are children. A journey to the world's greatest mangroves is more like an adventure and therefore it is not always suitable for families with younger members. So Cox's Bazar stays at the top of the family-tour list.

With better road communication and air travel facility, Cox's Bazar is the most visited tourist site in the country. But now a most troubling question is agitating people's minds. A family of three ---a couple and its eight-month-old child---like thousands other, also wanted to spend a happy time in the beach town on Wednesday. It was beyond the couple's wildest imagination that their much-anticipated ecstasy would turn into a life-long nightmare.

Tourism is at its peak right at this time. People have thronged there in their thousands ---well above the tourist town's capacity to accommodate. How can known criminals, the gang leader of whom implicated in 17 cases in 10 years, roam there free and pick a woman and her husband on separate three-wheelers on dagger point? It is alleged that the couple and the baby were taken away from in front of the police box at Kabita Chattar. The main accused was imprisoned on charges of mugging on November 7 in the beach area and released on bail on November 15 last. Now the police are trying to insinuate something undesirable by making an unsolicited statement that the accused and the victims were known to each other. Why are the police taking such a stand in favour of an element involved in drug trade, supply of sex workers and similar other notorious acts?

 This cannot shirk their responsibility to protect tourists from their predators. How the incident took place is evidence enough that the police looked the other way. The victim's husband bumped into the main culprit and there ensued a brawl. Who knows if the culprit did not bump into the man wilfully! Whatever may be the case, the beach police were posted there to intervene in any feud. They did not.

What happened to the woman next needs no elaboration. Twice was she gang-raped by the pervert and his two associates---the last time in a hotel room. The management of the hotel apparently helped in the act. This is evident enough that Cox's Bazar is far from becoming a tourist-friendly spot. First, the beach police failed to play its role. Second, the woman was asked by the nearest police station to file a general diary when she rang the 999 emergency number. It was the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) that came to her and her husband's rescue. The baby was with her husband whom the gang held hostage in order to perpetrate their evil act.

Except the RAB, there was none to help the couple. Worse could happen to them if the RAB did not come to their rescue. Is this the sign of a welcoming beach resort? It seems the town fosters criminals. Infamous OC Pradip has shown how monstrous men in uniform can be. To maintain their evil empire such devils need help from drug traffickers and sex agents. The main accused has all the qualities of becoming a criminal of the worst type Pradips require. If this is not the case, this criminal should have been put behind bar forever.

The family has suffered the worst trauma and its negative impact on tourism is likely to be no less telling. Then, it is not the first case of sexual aggression. There was an attack on a foreign woman tourist in a tourist resort in between Cox's Bazar and Inani Beach dotted with separate huts a couple years ago. Fortunately, she could save her from the sexual predator. But such incidents only put an appallingly disreputable seal on the tourist site. It is a national shame. There is no compensation for the lost honour of the woman. But at least justice should be done in order to stop a repeat of such acts in the future.

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