LAXMIPUR, June 15: In this modern age of science and technology, still some people are passing their entire life on boats.
More than hundred families are found living on boats near the ghat at Moju Chowdhury haat area under Sadar upazila of the district.
According to field sources, these people are deprived of all government facilities; most of them are excluded from the national voter list; but, their lifestyle would change if they would get minimum government support.
If the weather remains favourable, they go fishing in the Meghna River. Boat is their only accommodation, and they have been living there following tradition of their ancestors.
While visiting these boat people at Moju Chowdhury ghat recently, it was found that despite their accommodation on boats, they make recreation on their own way. There are battery-powered tape recorders in the boats. Besides, some boats have solar power devices and some three/four lights are lit with this.
These floating fishermen families are hostage at the hands of moneylenders. After returning to the shore, they hand over the entire fish to the money-lenders. The lenders sell the fish and earn the total profit, but the boat people never get the money from the sale of fish.
Seeking anonymity, some fishermen said that the whole year the money-lenders save them from different problems including police harassment. When there is no catch of fish, they help the fishermen by providing necessary provisions including rice, pulse and salt, they added.
During any crisis, the money-lenders lend them money, and in this way, these fisherman families become hostages at their hands. Even their names are not included in the list of government rehabilitation projects.
The children of the boat people are compelled to go fishing in the river along with their families, and thus they cannot go to schools. Very often they face severe torture by the pirates during fishing. They have no idea about family planning or early marriage.
The floating fishermen said they have no permanent place for living. They are fighting against all odds of the society and the environment. Before every election, their status rises, but after the election there is nobody to help them.
During visiting the boats, this correspondent met with an 80-yerar old man Rahmat Ullah of the community. He informed that they were first at Bhola and came to Moju Chowdhury ghat around 50 years ago.
He alleged that despite being citizens of the country, they are deprived of all privileges. They demanded all kinds of support from the government.
In this connection, Chairman of Char Ramani Mohan Union Parishad Abu Yusuf Chhaiyal said, "Due to their mobile presence, the boat people cannot be included in any list. As a result, they are being deprived of necessary facilities."