Sixteen-year-old Archana Mondal has been carrying a passport size photograph of her fisherman father for anyone who comes to the house enquiring about Pranab Mondal. Standing in front of their tin-roof mud-house in Sirachar village, in Murshidabad district, her eyes well up as she speaks about Pranab, who is presently in custody of the Bangladesh Police.
“I want my father to return soon. He had promised to buy us firecrackers for Kali Puja. Now I don’t know whether he will come back before the puja,” Archana told The Indian Express.
Pranab was one of the three fishermen who were apprehended by the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) personnel on October 17, after they reportedly strayed into the Bangladesh side of the Padma river.
The incident led to a flag meeting on Thursday, during which a BSF personnel Vijay Bhan Singh was killed and another injured after the BGB opened fire.
After the three fishermen were caught by the BGB, Pranab who was the boat owner, was detained. The other two — Bikash (32) and Achintya Mondal (28) — were sent back and told to call the BSF for a flag meeting. Bikash accompanied the BSF personnel for the meeting, which took place in Bangladesh waters, while Achintya remained on the river bank.
After she heard about the incident, Pranab’s wife, Rekha Mondal (40), had rushed to Kakmarichar border outpost, manned by the BSF, with her husband’s voter ID and Aadhaar cards for verification.
“Someone from our village told us about what happened in the river. When I heard that one BSF officer was killed, I feared the worse. But after reaching the border outpost we learnt that Pranab has been detained by the BGB. We want the Bangladesh government to release my husband as soon as possible as he is the only earning member of our family,” said Rekha. Since the incident three days ago, she has been making bidis to earn some money as she has three daughters, one son and a mother-in-law to feed. Rekha has been earning Rs 200 per day.
She said her husband made around Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 in the Hilsa season depending on the size of the fish.
“He bought fishing nets and other equipments for this season after leasing out our land. All this is of no use now,” she said, pointing to the nets.
Residents of Sirachar village too have been demanding that Pranab should be released soon.
“It is not unusual to stray into the Bangladesh side while fishing in Padma river. But those who go there come back quickly. We do not know why he has been detained by the BGB,” said local resident Barun Mondal.
Special Director General (Eastern Command), BSF, Sanjeev Kumar Singh said on Saturday that they are making all efforts to bring back the fisherman.