Bangladeshi Man Was Lost In India For Years, A Cyclone Helped Him Get Found

Bangladeshi Man Was Lost In India For Years, A Cyclone Helped Him Get Found

Md Milan had left behind his wife and two children.


Cyclonic storm Remal, which ravaged parts of India and Bangladesh recently, came as a blessing in disguise for at least one family. A man, presumed dead by his family in Bangladesh nearly four years ago, was traced to Namkhana in West Bengal’s South 24-Parganas district during the evacuation of people from riverine and coastal areas to cyclone shelters further inland.

Anup Sasmal, a civil defence volunteer from the district, was involved in the evacuation process hours before Remal made landfall when he spotted a man at the Sasmal Bandh area of Namkhana. Despite the inclement weather, the man sat next to the embankment. On approaching him, Mr Sasmal realised that the man was suffering from some sort of mental illness.

He could neither provide a name nor an address but murmured something about fish and Bangladesh.

Mr Sasmal somehow coaxed the man into accompanying him to a cyclone shelter. At the shelter, names and addresses of occupants had to be jotted down in a register and an exception had to be made in the man’s case. After the worst was over, he was put up at a roadside government rest house under Mr Sasmal’s protection.

Finally, Mr Sasmal placed a call to the West Bengal Radio Club (WBRC), an organisation of amateur radio operators known for their acumen in reuniting such people with their families.

Incidentally, the WBRC had been requested by the South 24-Parganas district administration to send a team to Sagar Island ahead of Remal’s landfall to maintain communication links in case other modes failed.

“We received Mr Sasmal’s call and tried to speak to the man. He was incoherent. However, two things were clear. He was a resident of Bangladesh and had something to do with the fish trade or fishing. We immediately activated our friends (also amateur radio operators) in Bangladesh. It didn’t take them long to trace a family in the Dolkha village of Nangolkote in the Comilla district of Bangladesh whose missing son matched the description,” said Ambarish Nag Biswas, secretary, WBRC.

“Officials at the Nangalkote police station were extremely cooperative. It was ascertained that the unidentified man was Md Milan, son of one Rustom Ali, from that village,” Mr Biswas added.

Mr Milan left behind his wife Fancy, a son and a daughter when he went missing nearly four years ago. The children are now 9 and 16 years old. The whole family broke down when WBRC members connected them through a video call with Mr Milan.

It appears that Mr Milan was a fish trader and had left home to buy fresh supplies before he went missing. He had been carrying a lot of cash and it was presumed that he had been looted and murdered by criminals. How he reached Namkhana in West Bengal remains a mystery.

“It was a touching moment when the family saw Mr Milan on their mobile screen. His wife and cousin were weeping and his son, who must have been around five years old when he disappeared, recalled how his father had promised him a bicycle. Nature has its strange ways. Had it not been for Remal, Mr Milan would have been just another vagabond roaming the streets. We thank Anup Sasmal for his efforts and officials of the Nangalkote police station in Bangladesh, as well as our fellow HAMs from that country for this remarkable achievement,” Mr Biswas added.

Efforts have begun to procure documents from the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, and the Bangladesh Deputy High Commission in Kolkata to enable Mr Milan’s repatriation to the neighbouring country where he will be reunited with his family.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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