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Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 09:04 GMT 10:04 UK
Bangladesh tackles 'village of thieves'
A woman and child in a Bangladeshi village
Some villages are iniquitous rather than tranquil
The BBC's Alastair Lawson

Authorities in Bangladesh say they have introduced new measures to curtail the criminal activities of a remote community known as "the village of thieves".

Map of Bangladesh showing Dhaka and Jehanpur
For more than 100 years, the village of Jehanpur in the north-eastern district of Sunamganj has had a reputation for being a hot-bed of crime.

But officials now say that an increased police presence nearby the village has led to a significant reduction in offences.

Jehanpur - located in remote countryside - hit the headlines last August as a village of thieves.

Generations of crime

It is one of a handful of villages situated in different parts of the country whose residents have long had a reputation for indulging in petty crimes.

For well over a century, successive generations of criminals are reputed to have lived there.

Campaigning journalist Supriti Daw says that the reason Jehanpur became such a hot-bed of crime is because of the scarcity of food and other essentials.

"They don't think that they're thieves but local people call them thief and they stopped everything - food and schooling - everything they stopped," he said.

"Their children can't go to the normal school and they can't get health facilities - doctors don't go there."

'Astonishing' results

Such has been the concern in the local community over crime emanating from the village, that the authorities decided to impose strict restrictions.

Around 52 families were prevented from leaving and forced to report daily to a police outpost.

The results, say local government officials, have been astonishing.

The crime rate in the local area has dropped substantially and efforts are now under way to buy the villagers a plot of land so that they can be fully reintegrated into society.

See also:

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