Awami League leader takes control of the building

Three people were killed in a fire which broke out following an explosion at the Basundhara lane at a building in the capital’s Science Lab area on SundaySyed Zakir Hossain

The three-storied building in the Science Lab area of the capital which was damaged in an explosion has been declared ‘risky’ by the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC). The concerned authorities have said that the fire originated from ‘accumulated gas’. However, they couldn’t find out the source of the gas.  

Meanwhile, the police took control of the building after the explosion in the building on Sunday. According to the traders, Abul Hashem alias Liton, general secretary of the Awami League unit of ward no. 18 under the New Market police station, has taken control of the building since Monday morning.

A signboard was seen hanging from the roof of the damaged building at around 11am on Monday, which read “Risky Building, entry of general public completely prohibited”. Local Awami League leader Abul Hashem was seen standing in front of the gate of the building. He was not even allowing the traders to enter the building. Several traders said that he (Abul Hashem) has taken away the master key of the building as well.

On condition of anonymity, a cloth trader, who has a shop on the ground floor of the building, said, “Abul Hashem is dealing with the law enforcement agencies on behalf of the owners. We have shops on the ground floor of the building. Despite that, he is misbehaving with us and is not even allowing us to get near the building.”

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When asked about this, Abul Hashem told Prothom Alo, “I am an Awami League leader from this area. My house is near the building. Therefore, I have been volunteering here.”

However, deputy commissioner (DC) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s (DMP) Ramna Zone, Shahidullah said, “The building is under the control of the police. I have no such information that an Awami League leader has taken control of the building.”

It has been learnt that Shirin Sultana, the owner of the building, lives in the USA. This correspondent could not reach her. A man named Abul Kalam works as the caretaker of the building.

Speaking to Prothom Alo over the phone on Monday, he said, “I took leave a few days prior to the incident. There are offices of two companies on the third floor of the building. There are three more establishments on the third floor, including a tailor shop. Besides, there are five cloth shops on the ground floor of the building.”

However, the entire third floor has been completely damaged. The offices on the second have also been damaged.

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Speaking to Prothom Alo, Abdur Rashid, owner of the Best Tailors on the second floor of the damaged building, said he has been running a business on the second floor of the building since 2015.

He said, “I have purchased fabric worth Tk 5 million ahead of Holy Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr a few days ago. I already had a stock of fabric worth Tk 2.7 million. However, everything got burnt after the explosion. My shop has been destroyed completely.”

There was an explosion on the third floor of the Shirin Bhaban at around 10.45am Sunday. Some three were killed in this and another 15 sustained injuries. Six of the injured, who are undergoing treatment at the Sheikh Hasina Burn and Plastic Surgery Institute, are not out of danger yet, resident surgeon SM Ayub Hossain said.

Members of the bomb disposal unit of the police said the explosion originated from accumulated gas. However, they could not find out the source of the gas.

A source in the bomb disposal unit of the counter terrorism unit of police said they found traces of methane and carbon monoxide inside the building.

People affiliated with the investigation say the gas could have emitted from a leak in the old gas pipeline or from a leak in the sewerage pipe and then it might have accumulated in a closed space on the third floor. The carbon monoxide could be emitted from the air-conditioners. Any accumulated gas explodes when it comes into contact with any spark.

The sources in the fire service say that they are also investigating how the gas accumulated there. They also formed a three-member probe.

Meanwhile, a general diary (GD) has been lodged over the incident, said Shahidullah, DC of Ramna Zone of the DMP. The police will lodge a case at the end of the investigation of the GD if needed, he added.