Sajek Fire: Accident or sabotage?
While police suspect the fire that gutted four resorts and a restaurant in Sajek valley early yesterday was caused by a short circuit, owners of the resorts believe it was an act of sabotage.
"How is it possible for a fire to break out on its own in a washroom?" asked Maruati Lushai, owner of three of the four resorts and a restaurant that were destroyed in the fire.
"We are suspecting that someone threw in something that was already on fire through the open window of the bathroom in room 202, where the fire originated. There was no guest in that room yesterday. I am certain this was an act of sabotage," said Maruati, owner of Obokash Eco Resort.
Apart from Obokash, the blaze destroyed Sajek Eco Valley Resort, Megh Chhut Resort, Immanuel Resort, Maruati Restaurant, and two other establishments.
Maruati, who also owns Sajek Eco Valley Resort, Immanuel Resort and Maruati Restaurant, said, "I have struggled all my life and invested around Tk two crore in these establishments. All of that hard work went up in flames in a moment."
Mohammad Jahid, manager at Obokash, said, "We saw the fire in the bathroom around 3:40am."
He added that one of the tourists, aged around 26, brought one litre of octane to the resort. "We asked him why he brought it but he did not reply."
Jahid further said, "The man claimed he was part of a team from Dhaka, who were staying on the fourth floor. The fire broke out on the second floor. However, before anyone on the second floor could even realise there was a fire, the man who brought the octane and his group were the first to raise the alarm.
"We could not find any of their names as all the records were burnt in the fire."
Jahir Uddin, owner of Megh Chhut Resort, which was also burnt down as the fire spread there, said, "The fire could not have been caused by short circuit, as all the cottages [in all the resorts here] have circuit breakers… It might have been an act of sabotage.
"My dreams, along with my resort, were burnt down in the fire," said Jahir, from Bagaichhari upazila of Rangamati.
Mir Muddasser Hossain, superintendent of Rangamati police, said "The fire broke out from a short circuit. Even though there was no scope of sabotage, we are investigating the allegations."
Babla Das, chief of Dighinala Fire Service, said firefighters reached the spot around 6:00am, when the cottages and restaurants were already burnt to ashes.
"We are still suspecting it was from a short circuit."
Shariful Islam, upazila nirbahi officer of Bagaichhari, said, "At this stage, it's not possible to make any comments about how the fire originated."
According to locals, violence and arson have become commonplace in the hill tracts on or the day before the CHT Peace Accord Day, which was yesterday.