Rezia Khatun led a simple life as a housewife in Meherpur's Subidhpur village. However, 30 years ago, her life took a horrifying turn when she was tortured, rendered unconscious, and then sold to traffickers across the border in India. This marked the beginning of Rezia's nightmarish ordeal.
For a long time, Rezia was believed to be dead by her family, friends, and neighbours. Upon her unexpected return on Nov 10, not only did her family welcome her, but people from nearby villages also gathered to witness her homecoming.
Following her return, Rezia, now 50, discovered her parents had passed away, her siblings had aged, and her children had families of their own.
She also started a case with the Meherpur Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal, naming two suspects -- her husband, Azghar Ali, and his accomplice, Joynal.
The court has issued arrest warrants for both, and the police are actively working to locate them as they have gone into hiding.
Rezia's ordeal began at the age of 15 when her family married her off to Sattar Ali from Garabaria village in Gangni Upazila. After divorcing Sattar, she married Azghar Ali from her own village, but the marriage turned abusive.
In 1993, Azghar took Rezia to Kashmir in India, where he sold her to a man named Faruk Hossain. Rezia endured 30 years of captivity and torture.
"My children grew up without the love and affection of their mother. My parents died while I was in captivity and I didn't get the change to bid them farewell,” said a rueful Rezia.
Rezia filed the case to prevent others from enduring her cruel fate.
Defying all odds, Rezia eventually returned home with the help of a man from her neighbouring village. The journey home began when Rezia sought medical treatment in India's Panditpur village. There, she met Amirul Islam Bablu. She shared her story with Bablu, who helped reunite her with her family in Meherpur.
Rezia's brother, Anarul Islam, said the family learnt about her whereabouts from Amirul, leading to her rescue.
"We searched for our sister across the country but couldn’t find her. We assumed that she was dead. Three months ago, we got to know about her from Amirul, who lives in the neighbouring village, and then brought her back from Kashmir."
Saleha Khatun, Rezia's daughter, called for punishment for those responsible for taking her mother away.
Azghar Ali, however, denied all allegations. "We were married for a few years, and then we got divorced. I don't know anything about trafficking."
Joynal, too, claimed innocence, saying he was being framed in Rezia's case.
Ward council member Ariful Islam pledged support for Rezia. "We thought that Rezia was dead. We’ll provide her with all necessary help and legal support."
Public Prosecutor AKM Asaduzzaman said that, if proven guilty, the suspects could face death sentences or life imprisonment in Rezia's trafficking case.