Ashulia fire was pre-planned: PM
Nov 26th, 2012
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday said Tazreen Fashions Ltd was set afire in a planned way which led 110 garment workers to their death.
Citing instances of several violent incidents taking place lately, Hasina told Parliament that all these incidents were inter-linked.
Her observation came when five committees were investigating the deadly blaze at Ashulia.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association has also spoken about plots to set the factory ablaze in an attempt to create anarchy.
However, workers who escapeed by jumping from windows alleged the factory authorities stopped them running to safety after the fire alarm had gone off.
Hasina cited the Sunday night incident in which the police captured a woman trying to set a factory ablaze at Ashulia to state Tazreen Fashions was set on fire in the same way on Saturday evening.
“I don’t know when playing games with lives of the people will end,” said Hasina.
“(I draw your attention to) what happened yesterday (Sunday night). A female worker set (the factory) ablaze after entering (it). Another woman screamed as soon as she set a fire. The fire was doused with fire extinguishing machines,” said Hasina.
“I have seen video footage of it recorded on the CCTV camera. A woman entered and left after setting fire (to the factory),” she added.
The police arrested Sumi Begum and another man named ‘Zakir’ from Debnayar on Sunday, a day after a devastating fire swept through the Tazreen Fashions at Nishchintapur at Ashulia.
“Sumi was paid Tk 20,000 for torching it. He who paid her has also been arrested. But those who are behind all these must be arrested,” Hasina continued.
“It is not an accident, (it was) planned. The incident takes place when it is the time for buyers to come and sign contracts.”
“I have seen after independence jute warehouses were set on fire. At that time jute was the only product to earn foreign currencies. Now I see garment factories are being set on fire.”
She believes the fire incident has direct links to the Ramu atrocities by religious zealots and the recent attacks on the police.
“Police come first (on the list), then come garment, who’s next?” she wondered.
Awami League leader Tofail Ahmed suspected involvement of Jamaat-e-Islami and its students wing Islami Chhatra Shibir in setting Tazreen ablaze.
“It is not as simple as a woman setting fire. There must have been some politics here. In it there is an effort to push the country into chaos.”
The Prime Minister said ‘a vested quarter’ tried to gain from the incident of fire.
“Many are trying to make the situation muddy. Many went on the rampage after the disaster took place instead of aiding the victims in need of help. The same thing had taken place at Ramu and it took place at Bahaddarhat too.”
“I had taken measures to tackle the Ashulia incident. Army was sent there the night (the fire broke out).”
“I began monitoring (the fire) as soon as I heard about it. The fire was brought under control around 1:30am or 2:30am. But it could not be known (until then) what had happened inside.”
Rescuers retrieved 110 bodies on Sunday after the fire was doused, according to official estimates.
Expressing her shock at the devastation the fire had caused, Hasina said, “People were charred to death in fire. (They) cannot be identified by (their) faces. What a dangerous situation! It cannot be expressed in words.”
She said bodies will be buried on Tuesday after DNA samples were taken.
The Prime Minister urged industrialists to ensure security of the workers. “Garment (factories) earns you bread. Why is this happening (to workers) for a trifle amount of money?”
She urged asked them to increase salary of the workers, introduce food ration and ensure their lodging. Hasina called upon workers leaders to not provoke violent reactions from the workers after an accident.
“I would like to request countrymen that where there has been an accident those who go there for rescue (operations) should not be attacked.”
Deputy Speaker Shawkat Ali presented a condolence motion for the death. “On behalf of Parliament, I express deep shock and condolence.”
He prayed for fast recovery of the injured from the Ashulia fire and flyover collapse at Bahddarhat in Chittagong.
Later, a condolence motion was unanimously adopted.
Earlier during the session, Jatiya Party MP Ruhul Amin Howlader demanded judicial inquiry into the fire.
“Many incidents are taking place that are beyond government control, unexpectedly. Who are behind all these incidents? Who are making all these happen each time? I urge the Prime Minister to find out it,” said Howlader, Secretary-General of the party.
Workers Party of Bangladesh’s President Rashed Khan Menon called for action against those who negligence led to the incidents at Ashulia and Chittagong.
“It is nothing new. It has become a regular affair,” Menon said.
Primary and Mass Education Minister Afsarul Amin, and Awami League MPs Mosharraf Hossain and Shahriar Alam also spoke on the issue.