Chawkbazar fire took away livelihoods and sole earners | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 06, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:24 AM, April 06, 2019

Chawkbazar fire took away livelihoods and sole earners

Victim families demand financial assistance

Family members of Chawkbazar fire victims yesterday demanded adequate financial assistance as well as education and medical expenses for children of the victims.

They also demanded government jobs for family members of the victims as per their qualification.

The family members formed a human chain under the banner of “Danger Free Roads and Safe Homes” in front of Jatiya Press Club to press home their 11-point demand.

Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela) Chief Executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan said the persons behind the fire must be punished.

Saying that many victim families have plunged into tough times, losing the sole earners, she said steps should be taken to ease their woes.

Rizwana demanded trial of the organisations whose negligence was responsible for the fire.

Little Sanin, in her father Sumon's lap, joined the human chain. She still is not aware that her mother Shila was one of the victims of the devastating fire.

Talking to this correspondent, she said, “I came here to see my mother.”

Nahida Rahman lost her husband Anwar Hossain, owner of Haider Medico and the sole earner of the family, to the fire. 

Uncertainty looms over the upbringing of her two children, as all the savings were invested in mobile banking service at the shop and medicines worth around Tk 12 lakh  -- all burnt to ashes.

“We were a solvent family but we have nothing now… I have to constantly worry how I will raise my kids,” she said, urging for financial assistance from the government.

The family said they have received only Tk 20,000 so far for Anwar's burial.

“My four-year-old daughter still thinks her father is in the hospital, and he'll come home once we have the money to buy medicine,” Nahida said.

Moyna Begum, wife of another fire victim Mohammad Shahin, said after her husband's death she and her three children have become destitute.

“I don't know how I would feed my children, pay the rent, and meet education expenses,” she said, adding that they do not have relatives who could provide financial assistance.

The families' other demands include free treatment for the injured, compensation for the affected traders, regular examination of gas cylinders and banning use of expired ones, storing chemical and flammable objects in safer places, and strictly following Rajuk's rules and regulations.

A devastating fire broke out in Old Dhaka's Chawkbazar area around 10:40pm on February 20, claiming the lives of 70 people.

The victims were mostly pedestrians, people travelling in rickshaws and cars, residents of the buildings as well as owners and staffers of the shops and warehouses at the spot.

The Chawkbazar fire, which sparked from a chemical warehouse, is the second deadliest chemical-fuelled fire incident in the country after the Nimtoli fire that had killed 124 people and injured many others on June 3, 2010.

[With input from our photographer Palash Khan.]

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