Besides the four workers killed in a landslide while extracting stones illegally in Jaflong of Gowainghat upazila on Tuesday, another body of a worker, who suffered the same fate, was recovered by police early yesterday from his village home at Baniachang upazila in Habiganj.
According to police, the traders, who appointed the workers, tried to hide the bodies after the landslide took place. They were able to send one of the bodies to the family members the same day, police added.
The district administration confirmed that the death toll now stands at five.
On Tuesday, seven workers went to the Mandir Jum area to extract stones from a trench. Suddenly, around 4:45pm, a landslide hit the pit, leaving five of them dead on the spot. The other two were critically injured.
Bishwajit Kumar Paul, upazila nirbahi officer of Gowainghat, said the body of one of the workers was recovered by police early yesterday. After the landslide, police started their investigation and heard from the locals that the traders were trying to cover up the incident by hiding the bodies.
They managed to hide one, he said. The family was about to bury the body when police recovered it. The body was sent to a local hospital morgue for an autopsy.
“We have closed all the stone extraction activities in the area…,” he said.
Meanwhile, a three-member probe body has been formed by the administration headed by Syed Mohammad Aminur Rahman, additional deputy commissioner (revenue) of Sylhet, on Tuesday night.
Contacted, he said, “We are investigating the incident. Legal steps will be taken against the traders who appointed the workers to extract stones illegally.”
The deceased, whose body the traders hid, is Sadek Miah, 40, said police.
The other four dead workers are Jahur Ali, 60 of Baniachang upazila in Habiganj, his son Majaheed Ali, 21, and daughter Sakirun Begum, 26; and Nur Miah, 40, of Osmaninagar upazila.
Jakirun Begum, another daughter of Jahur Ali, filed a case against 15 named and eight unnamed persons with Gowainghat Police Station yesterday.
Police arrested one of the accused, Shahab Uddin, of Jaflong the same day.
Delowar Hossain, officer-in-charge of the police station, said Abdus Sattar, the owner of the land where the landslide took place, is in jail in another case. He will be shown arrested in this one also, he said, adding that they are trying to locate the other accused.
When asked about the names of the accused, Sub-inspector Juned Ahmed, the case's investigation officer, said they cannot disclose the names of the accused for the sake of investigation.
Meanwhile, rights activists through a joint statement, issued yesterday, urged the government to take strict measures against the traders to stop the illegal stone extractions.
The signatories are: Advocate Shah Shaheda Akhter, Sylhet regional coordinator of Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association (BELA); Faruk Mahmud Chowdhury, president of Shushashoner Jannoy Nagorik (SHUJAN), Sylhet chapter; Advocate EU Shahidul Islam Sahin, former president of Sylhet District Bar Association; Irfanuzzaman Chowdhury, coordinator of Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust, Sylhet chapter; Aziz Ahmed Selim, president of Sachetan Nagorik Committee (Sanak); Advocate Syeda Shirin Akhter, coordinator of Bangladesh National Women Lawyers' Association, Sylhet chapter; Foysol Ahmed Bablu, president of Bangladesh Human Rights Journalist Commission; and Abdul Karim Kim, general secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (Bapa), Sylhet chapter.