A Bangladeshi man who went missing 23 years ago shocked his family as he returned to his ancestral village long after they had given him up for dead.
Missing since 1989, Moslemuddin Sarkar, returned home on Tuesday with help from the International Committee of the Red Cross after spending 15 years in Pakistani jails.
Hundreds of supporters came down to Bishnurampur village in the northern Mymensingh district to catch a glimpse of him and congratulate the tearful and jubilant family.
In 1989, Sarker entered India without informing his family and with no valid documents, he told AFP news agency by telephone. He was then caught as he tried to cross into Pakistan in 1997, where he was jailed for trying to enter the country illegally.
“I went to Pakistan believing that I would get a better job there. But they caught me at the border. I was beaten and tortured in prison,” he explained in a mixture of Urdu and Bengali.
“I wrote dozens of letters to my village address, but did not have any clue that they were never posted. At one stage I lost all hope of returning home,” he added.
According to spokesperson Onchita Shadman, The Red Cross became involved and facilitated Sarkar’s return after his family received a tip-off that he was locked up in Pakistan and turned to the organization for help.
Sarkar’s younger brother, Julhas Uddin, said most of the family had feared the worst.
“We searched for him for years and finally gave up hope believing he might have drowned in the sea. But our mother always believed that her son would return home one day,” he told AFP.
“My mother passed out as he hugged her after returning. It was a heartbreaking scene. He could not control his tears for hours,” he added.
Sarker was described as “frail and overwhelmed” on his return, but he was also “delighted” to see that his mother was still alive.