Home Bangladesh Clear case of death trap
Bangladesh - District - July 11, 2021

Clear case of death trap

*All basic rules were violated
*Murder case filed by police
*Hashem and 4-son arrestedand put on 4-day remand
*Workers liable for fire: Hashem

Mahfuja Mukul:Police have brought charges of murders and attempts to murder against Sajeeb Group Chairman MA Hashem, his four sons and three factory officials over the deaths of 52 workers in Thursday’s fire. Of them six have been arrested yesterday and produced to court. The
The first observations of a team from Electronic Safety and Security Association of Bangladesh (ESSAB) has identified absent of all basic factory rules. The gates of the factory were lock and key from the outside, no emergency exit stare was also not been exists. The senior Metropolitan Magistrate Fahmida Khatun has allowed them 4-day in police custody for remand.
They had just entered the desolation known formerly as Shezan juice factory in Narayanganj, where a fire on Friday took the lives of 52 workers, who had lost their bet to live to the industrial culture of lackadaisical enforcement of safety and fire prevention measures.
Sajeeb Group Chairman Md Abul Hashem yesterday claimed that he didn’t personally start the fire, which sounds ironic amidst this devastation.
The inspection team from ESSAB, however, would differ in that view.
Charred walls were still hot to the touch; plumes of smoke continuing to rise more than 48 hours later and barely a whisper of wind inside the factory premises speak volumes of what happened inside this factory on Thursday.
The inspection team prodded the piles of melted plastic now in an agglomerated mass. They examined the thousands of burnt cartons, plastic bottles, plastic sachets and stacks of prettily-wrapped lollipops now conjoined together in grotesque displays. Plastic was the main culprit, a member of the team observed.
The windows, which either the fire or the workers broke to save their lives, brought in light to the darkened factory floors.
The stairs, once tiled with white marble, were now cracked and burnt beyond recognition. Climbing the steps, the floors only got darker.
Until you reached the roof. Over there, refuge could have been found. Only if such a refuge was not so cruelly blocked off behind locked steel barriers.
A fire official, Emon, said all lives could have been saved had the workers been allowed access to the roof. “We rescued 25 people from the roof on the first day. Had more been allowed, more lives would have been saved,” he said.
He mentioned that the nearby ponds and water bodies, natural elements we are so quick to encroach upon, helped put out the fire faster. “We can only carry 2,000 litres at a time. Without these ponds, we would have been fighting for days.”
The ponds, however, were happy boons of nature. The factory authority did not have anything to create those.
Indeed, while the factory authorities could not be asked to answer questions about their culpability, the haphazard or careless arrangements of the factory floor, the lack of safety equipment or any thought for the security of the workers, would bring the word ‘manslaughter’ to mind.
“There are no sprinklers, no hydrants, no evacuation plans. No regulation seems to have been followed here,” Engineer Mohammad Monzur Alam, vice president of ESSAB, said.
With a sad smile, he said they heard each of the floors were locked so employees couldn’t steal the lollipops and juices they produced with their tired hands and dazed minds.
“According to the law, you must have four staircases. Not just one,” he said pointing to the sole emergency exit, which also was a makeshift one.
He pointed to the lack of exhaust fans. “All basic rules were violated.”
Asked how a factory could carry on with such obvious violations, he said he was perplexed as well. He, too, did not know how or whether the factory’s blueprints had been approved.
Another fire service official asked how one building functioned as both a production unit and also as storage.
In these soot filled halls, answers were not forthcoming. No factory official could be seen. Gossips and rumours flourished in the entire atmosphere. The simplest explanations are often the right ones: there was no conspiracy here; just carelessness and incompetence.

Police charge owner Hashem, 4 sons and 3 officials

Police have brought charges of murders and attempts to murder against Sajeeb Group Chairman MA Hashem, his four sons and three factory officials over the deaths of 52 workers in Thursday’s fire.
Bhulta Police Outpost In-Charge Inspector Nazim Uddin Mozumder filed the case yesterday under sections 302, 307, and 326 of the Penal Code 1860.
If found guilty under Section 302, which deals with the crime of murder, they shall be sentenced to death or life imprisonment and may also be liable to a fine. Section 307 offers life imprisonment or up to ten years imprisonment and a fine for attempted murder. While section 326 offers imprisonment for life or imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to a fine for hurting someone intentionally.
The accused are- Sajeeb Group Chairman MA Hashem, his four sons- Hasib Bin Hashem, Tarek Ibrahim, Tawsib Ibrahim and Tanjim Ibrahim; CEO Shahan Shah Azad, DGM Mamunur Rashid and Engineer Md Salahuddin.
A massive fire broke out at the Shezan Juice factory, sister concern of Sajeeb Group, in Narayanganj’s Bhulta area at 5pm on Thursday. Three workers died after jumping from the roof during the fire. Later fire service recovered bodies of 49 workers on Friday.
On the same day, MA Hashem pointed fingers at the workers for the blaze, saying their negligence might have caused the fire.
Yesterday, police picked up MA Hashem and his sons from their Gulshan residence in the capital and took them to the Rupganj police station. Later police shown them arrested in the case.
Family of a fire victim earlier filed a case and later police shown them arrested in the case.
Earlier in the day, police picked up MA Hashem and his sons from their Gulshan residence in the capital and took them to the Rupganj police station.
Workers responsible for the fire: Hashem
On the same day, MA Hashem pointed fingers at the workers for the blaze, saying their negligence might have caused the fire.
“Operating an industry was the biggest mistake in my life because an industry requires workers and when there are workers they will work. And fire can occur during the work. Is it my responsibility?
I never triggered the fire myself, not even the manager as well,” Hashem added.

Sajeeb Group Chairman Md Abul Hashem denied all responsibility for the Narayanganj factory fire that killed at least 52 people.
The six-storey food factory building in Naryanganj’s Rupganj is owned by the group.
“The fire may have been a result of workers’ carelessness. Maybe some worker did not put out his cigarette before throwing it,” he said, adding that any of these could be the reason behind the deadly blaze.
“Those who are protesting now are not workers. They are outsiders,” he added.
The factory has seven buildings and there was fire in one of them. “Around 600-700 people work in the entire factory,” he added.
Asked whether he can tell how many people were working in the building where the fire broke out, he said that he can’t say that for sure as many units were closed at the time of the incident.
Abul Hashem believes the reason behind the severity of the fire could be the cartons and other flammable objects on the ground floor. “The fire may have spread from the cartons on the ground floor. There were many machines on the floors above. And since food items are made here, there were many combustible substances. Maybe that increased the intensity of the fire,” he said.
When questioned whether he went to the spot, he said “I did not go but my people are there. Those who died are my sons and daughters. I feel broken. I will try my best to be there for my sons and daughters. This is an accident. All units of the factory were not in operation. Not many people were there. Even then, those who were there, tried their best to bring the fire under control but could not do so.”
Hashem further claimed that the factory building had adequate firefighting equipment.

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