Rana Plaza Tragedy: No Justice in 11 Years

The Rana Plaza collapse in Savar is a heartbreaking event in the history of the country. 11 years of this tragedy have been completed today on April 24. On this day in 2013, one thousand 136 workers were killed when the 10-storey Rana Plaza building collapsed near Savar bus stand. More than two thousand people were injured. Two thousand 438 people were rescued alive. This industrial accident shook not only Bangladesh but the whole world.

But even after 11 long years, the punishment of the guilty was not confirmed. Relatives of dead workers and injured workers did not get proper compensation.

A total of three cases were registered in this incident. Out of 594 witnesses in the murder case, only 84 have completed their testimony. The victim workers and their family members have raised questions about the sincerity of the government as the trial has not been completed even after so many days. Currently, this case of worker’s death is under trial in the District and Sessions Judge Court of Dhaka. On the other hand, the case filed under the Building Regulations Act is also pending in the High Court. As a result, the proceedings in this case are not progressing due to legal complications.

The laborer’s murder case is at the stage of taking evidence in the District and Sessions Judge’s Court of Dhaka. On July 18, 2016, charges were framed against the accused in this case. The defendant appealed to the High Court challenging the validity of the complaint. The proceedings in the High Court are suspended for five years. Later, after the cancellation of the suspension order, on January 31 last year, the testimony of the plaintiff in the case began. In the last one year and three months, out of 594 witnesses of the charge sheet, 36 witnesses have been testified.

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State lawyer Bimal Samddar said about the case, it took a long time to file the investigation report. Then the court ordered to frame charges against the accused and the accused went to the high court against that order. The case has wasted time in various ways since its inception. The case reached the testimony stage after overcoming other legal hurdles. But it is not possible to conclude the testimony as the witnesses did not appear properly.

After the High Court granted bail to the owner of Rana Plaza, Sohel Rana, who is in jail in the case, the state applied to the Appellate Division to stay the bail. After the hearing on that application, Sohel Rana’s bail was suspended on January 15 this year by a bench of 4 judges led by the Chief Justice.

At that time, Sohel Rana, along with 13 people accused of construction of buildings without complying with the law, filed another case in Savar Model Police Station, then the officer in charge of Capital Development Authority (Rajuk). Helal Ahmed. On April 26, 2015, CID Assistant Superintendent of Police Vijaykrishna Kar filed a charge sheet in court accusing 18 people including Sohel Rana. 130 people were made witnesses in the case.

When asked to know, Additional Public Prosecutor of Dhaka Chief Judicial Magistrate Court Anwarul Kabir Babul told the media that on November 19 last year, former District and Sessions Judge of Dhaka AHM Habibur Rahman Bhuiyan court took the murder case as well as the building construction law case. So that the trial of these two cases is completed quickly at the same time. However, as the judicial proceedings of the case were suspended in the High Court, the testimony could not be started. There is no progress in the case yet. All of the 16 accused in this case are on bail.

In the case of Rana Plaza collapse, two cases of murder and building construction act were filed eight years ago, said Farooq Ahmed, the lawyer for the accused. He said that the accused Sohel Rana cannot be released from prison as the trial of the two cases has not been completed. According to him, the accused Sohail Rana is detained in jail without trial.

According to the investigation, Rana Plaza was approved for the construction of six floors, but an eight-storey building was constructed. Because of this, the ACC filed another case on the allegation of corruption related to building construction. On July 16, 2014, Mofidul Islam, the investigating officer of the case and deputy director of the ACC, filed a charge sheet against 18 people including Rana.

Currently, the case is under trial in the court of Dhaka Divisional Special Judge SM Ziaur Rahman. The court has completed the testimony of 16 of the total 18 witnesses in this case. The court accepted the testimony of ACC director MA Mofidul Islam, the investigation officer of the latest case. However, as his interrogation is not over, the testimony is ongoing. April 28 is scheduled for cross-examination and further testimony.

Referring to the Rana Plaza collapse case as an accident case, the accused Rana’s lawyer Farooq Ahmed said that Rana has been in jail for the past 11 years in this case. Everyone else gets bail but Rana is not getting bail. Whatever happens in the judgment of the case will happen. Being imprisoned for 11 years without trial is humanly unjust. So the court should end the trial of the case quickly, or grant bail to the accused. I hope that Rana and other accused will be acquitted in the verdict of this case.

In this regard, ACC lawyer Mosharraf Hossain Kajol said that the case is at the final stage of taking evidence. It is expected that the trial of the case will be resolved quickly after the next proceedings.

The accused accused in this case are – building owner Sohail Rana, his father Abdul Khalek alias Kulu Khalek, mother Morjina Begum, Mayor of Savar Municipality Refayet Ullah, Councilor Mohammad Ali Khan, Deputy Assistant Engineer Rakibul Hasan Russell, Chairman of Newweb Button Limited Bajlus Samad Adnan, Site Engineer. Sarwar Kamal, Aminul Islam, NewWeb Style Managing Director Mahmudur Rahman Tapas, Ether Textile Chairman Anisur Rahman alias Anisuzzaman, Savar Municipality Chief Executive Officer Uttam Kumar Roy, Engineer Rafiqul Islam, Garment Merchant Mahbubul Alam, Former Assistant Engineer Mahbubur Rahman, Urban Planner Farzana Islam , Nantu Contractors and Rezaul Islam.

Out of the three cases in connection with the Rana Plaza collapse, only the case filed by the ACC against Rana Plaza owner Sohail Rana for concealment of assets has been settled.

On August 29, 2017, the then judge KM Imrul Kayes of Dhaka Special Judge Court-6 announced the verdict in this case. In the verdict, Sohail Rana was sentenced to three years imprisonment and a fine of 50 thousand rupees and in default of payment three months imprisonment. In the same case, his mother Morjina Begum was also sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.

Relatives of more than 1,000 workers are still crying over the Rana Plaza collapse. A large number of workers are living an inhumane life by being crippled. Even after 11 years of this incident, they have been demanding justice for the culprits including building owner Sohel Rana. They expressed their anger as the punishment of the guilty was not assured.

70-year-old Safia Bewa was crying in front of Rana Plaza. He lost his table boy Lal Mia in Rana Plaza collapse. Lal Mia worked on the third floor of the building.

Expressing concern over the lack of justice in this incident, the leaders say, ‘Since the Rana Plaza collapse, we have been raising several demands. Even in the last 11 years, our demands have not been fulfilled. After all these years we are making the same demand.’

Garments Sramik Oikya League General Secretary Sarwar Hossain said that the Rana Plaza collapse is a murder. Those who are involved in this should be given maximum punishment. It is not only our demand, it is everyone’s demand.’ Bangladesh Garments and Industrial Workers Federation President Rafiqul Islam Sujan has expressed his anger for not rehabilitating the injured workers in this incident. He said, ‘Even in 11 years, none of our demands have been fulfilled. I hope the state will look into this matter.

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