Police have sued three dead staffers of Multifabs Ltd over Monday's boiler explosion at its garment factory in Gazipur, raising doubts among the victims' families as to whether the persons responsible would be brought to justice.
Abdur Rashid, assistant sub-inspector at Chakrabarti Police Camp, filed the case with Joydebpur Police Station on Tuesday night against the three boiler operators, who were killed in the blast while on duty. Ten unidentified persons were also made accused.
The three operators were Abdus Salam, Ershad Hossain and Mansurul Huq, according to the first information report.
Police brought six charges, including murder, causing grievous injuries, and negligence in duty against the accused.
Thirteen workers were killed and more than 50 others injured in the explosion at the apparel factory in Kashimpur area on Monday evening.
“Boiler operators Abdus Salam, Ershad Hossain and Mansurul Huq with the help of eight to 10 fellow staffers switched on the boiler despite knowing it was risky and that the period of validity of the boiler had expired,” says the FIR.
Police said the accused didn't take permission from the factory authorities for operating the boiler which is tantamount to negligence in discharging duty.
In the FIR, it was mentioned that the factory authorities applied several days ago to the Office of the Chief Inspector of Boilers for inspection of the boiler.
“Without informing the authorities, they [the staffers] switched on the boiler to check it before examination by engineers at the Office of Chief Inspector of Boilers.”
It also said the factory was scheduled to resume operation on July 4 after a nine-day Eid vacation.
Talking to this correspondent last night, Mahiuddin Faruqui, chairman and managing director of Multifabs Ltd, said the factory authorities had asked some workers to resume operation of the boiler.
“We had asked them to work during the daytime only, not at night,” he claimed.
The filing of case against the dead operators has triggered outrage among their relatives and co-workers.
Venting their anger, several workers at the factory yesterday told this newspaper that the operators switched on the boiler upon instructions from the factory authorities.
They said the factory have strict rules that no one can operate any equipment without permission from the authorities.
“There were more than 200 workers at the factory when the boiler exploded. If the authorities had not given them permission, they couldn't even enter the building and start work in different sections, including dyeing, knitting, maintenance and boiler,” said one of the workers, seeking anonymity.
Another worker said, “It requires more than 10 people to operate a boiler. How could police say [in the case] that the three operators decided on their own to check it.”
Anwar Hossain, cousin of accused Abdus Salam, said he was surprised to know that Salam's name was in the FIR.
Quoting a member of Salam's family, Anwar said an engineer of Multifabs Ltd had asked Salam to go to the factory on Monday to operate the boiler.
“Doesn't it mean that he operated the boiler on instructions from the factory authorities?
“I have no word to express my anger. My cousin and 12 other workers were killed because of negligence of the factory authorities as they didn't replace the outdated boiler in time. Instead of ensuring justice for the victims, the dead have been made accused,” he added.
Wishing anonymity, a relative of Ershad, another main accused, said the factory authorities and the police showed utter disrespect to the dead by filing a case against them.
“We want justice and punishment to those responsible. But the filing of the case against the dead workers indicates that justice is still far away.”
Meanwhile, Ain O Shalish Kendra said it learnt from workers of the factory that they had informed the factory authorities about faults in the boiler. But instead of taking any measure, the authorities asked them to continue work.
In a statement yesterday, the rights organisation demanded that the government take stern action against the persons responsible to stop recurrence of such industrial accident.