Seven days have already passed since the capsize of a launch in the Buriganga that claimed 34 lives, but police could not arrest anyone allegedly liable for the deaths.
Owner and staffers of Moyur-2, the launch that hit and sank another launch -- Morning Bird -- near Sadarghat Launch Terminal on June 29, did not even appear before the probe committees to give statements, officials said.
In this situation, two probe committees -- one formed by the shipping ministry and another by Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) -- are likely to submit their reports today.
"All the staffers and owner of Moyur-2 are absconding. We will submit our report tomorrow [Monday]," Rafiqul Islam Khan, convener of the ministry-formed committee, told The Daily Star yesterday.
He said they have talked to some witnesses in person and others over phone and collected video footage during their investigation.
He, however, declined to share the findings.
A member of the BIWTA-formed committee said they would also submit their report today.
"We tried to talk to the master and other staffers of Moyur-2 but they did not appear before us. Watching CCTV footage, we found that Moyur-2 authorities were responsible for the incident," the member told The Daily Star wishing anonymity.
NO ARREST YET
At least 34 people died after Moyur-2 hit and sank another launch in the Buriganga on June 29. The following day, Shamsul Alam, sub-inspector (SI) of Sadarghat River Police Station, filed the case with Keraniganj Dakshin Police Station.
The seven accused are Moyur-2 owner Mosaddek Hanif Swad (33), his employee Abul Bashar Molla (65), launch master Jakir Hossain (54), engine driver Shipon Hawlader (45), Shakil Hasan (28), Sukani Nasir Mridha (40), and Ridoy (24).
River police are investigating the case.
Contacted, Khandoker Faridul Islam, superintendent of police (Dhaka region) of River police, said they were trying but could not arrest the accused till yesterday.
"We have carried out drives at all possible places and from yesterday [Saturday] we have started drives outside Dhaka," he added.
Replying to another question, "We have filed a case against the Moyur-2 authorities and staffers as we preliminarily found them responsible for the incident. However, we will also look into whether another launch had a role in this."
Although the number of launch accidents has reduced lately, accidents of trawlers and other small-size vessels continue to take place while incidents of getting justice remain rare, activists said.
Ashis Kumar Dey, National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways, said two staffers of BIWTA and the shipping department were suspended and a departmental case was filed against two shipping department officials after the Pinak-6 capsize in 2014.
Owner of the Pinak-6 was also arrested but released later, he said.
In a rare verdict, the Marine Court in Dhaka in April 2017 punished a launch company and nine of its staff as it found them guilty of causing MV Koko-4 to capsize that left 81 people killed and many more missing in November 2009.
But, the case still remains pending at higher court, Ashis said.
"Rarely, those responsible for launch capsize get punished," he said.
He also raised questions about the fairness of the ongoing investigation as no technical person was incorporated in the ministry-formed committee.At least 153 people were killed and 84 others injured in 106 waterways' accidents in the last six months, two non-government organisations said on Saturday.
Besides, 22 people went missing in those accidents between January and June, according to National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads & Railways and Green Club of Bangladesh.
The number of such accidents has increased compared to the same period last year, when 71 people were killed in 76 accidents.