Tazreen Tragedy: The never-ending wait
My husband Kamal Hossain Gazi and I jumped from the third floor to save ourselves from the blaze. We made it out, but now, we are physically disabled. Justice could be our only solace, but we don't know how many years we have to wait for it.
Maya Begum, a survivor of the blaze that engulfed Tazreen factory 10 years ago, is losing all hope for justice, or financial assistance for that matter, as proceedings of the case centring this incident is progressing at a snail's pace.
"Only God above knows how we are passing our days," said a frustrated Maya, who worked as a cleaner at the factory in Ashulia.
Maya's daughter Rupa Akter also worked there as a sewing operator. She jumped from the building's second floor after the fire started.
She suffered severe injuries in her spine, head, and legs. Her life has been changed forever.
"Justice could be our only solace, but we don't know how many years we have to wait for it," said Nasima Akter, another sewing operator of the factory, whose husband also worked with her.
"My husband Kamal Hossain Gazi and I jumped from the third floor to save ourselves from the blaze. We made it out, but now, we are physically disabled," said Nasima, a mother of three children.
A day after the massive fire on November 24, 2012 -- which killed over 112 workers and wounded scores -- a case was filed with Ashulia Police Station.
The trial proceedings have made no satisfactory headway in the last seven years due to the prosecution's failure to produce the witnesses before the court for depositions.
Only 11 out of the 104 prosecution witnesses gave their depositions before the court after charges were framed, a court staffer told The Daily Star.
Mirazul Islam, a supervisor of the factory, gave his deposition on May 18 this year. Since then, no witnesses came to the court for deposition, he said.
From May to August this year, the court issued non-bailable arrest warrants against eight absentee witnesses and summonses against another six witnesses for failing to comply with multiple court orders.
However, they still did not appear for depositions, according to the court's records.
"The witnesses have not been produced before court for deposition due to a lack of the government's logistical support, which is delaying trial proceedings," said AKM Shah Newaz, an additional public prosecutor of the First Additional District and Sessions Judge's Court of Dhaka.
"If the prosecution is not vigilant while implementing the court's summonses and non-bailable arrest warrants on time, they will fail to produce the witnesses before the court for depositions," Khurshid Alam Khan, a criminal law expert, told The Daily Star. "And so, the trial proceedings move slowly."
Khairul Mamun Mintu, a regional leader of Bangladesh Trade Union Centre, said, "The government and BGMEA could not ensure compensation to the victims' families in 10 years. Most of the accused, including factory owner Delwar, are free from consequences."
On December 2, 2013, AKM Mohsin Uzzaman Khan, an inspector of police's Criminal Investigation Department, submitted a charge sheet against Tazreen Fashions owner Delwar Hossain, his wife Mahmuda Akter Mita and its 11 employees.
The court framed charges against 13 accused on September 3, 2015. Of the accused, nine, including Delwar and his wife, are now on bail. The rest are on the run.
[Our correspondent in Savar contributed to this report.]