CID finds evidence of 'irregularities' in running the factory

Firefighters stand inside a Hashem Foods Ltd factory as burnt items are seen after a fire broke out, in Rupganj, Narayanganj district, on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, 9 July, 2021

At least 52 workers and officials were killed in the fire at the Hashem Foods factory in Narayanganj district as there was no fire-safety gear at the factory.

Besides, the factory walkways for workers were blocked by storing goods and it had no emergency fire exit staircases.

While investigating the fire incident on 8 July, Bangladesh Police’s criminal investigation department (CID) found the irregularities as well as proofs of mismanagement at the factory.

Police filed murder a case against eight including Sajeeb Group chairman and managing director Abul Hashem in connection with the fatal incident. All the accused were arrested and placed on a four-day police remand.

CID stepped forward to conduct a shadow investigation along with Narayanganj police after the inferno brought under control.

There were several sections separated by GI fencing on every floor. Movement through the sections was restricted by locked doors so that workers could not steal foods for their own consumption.

According to CID officials, the GI fences were the barriers for emergency exit to the staircases. Flammable chemical substances, finished products and raw materials were stored at the production units.

The CID officers observed that the irregularities and mismanagement were the reasons behind the fatal incident. They handed eight types of evidences over to the investigative officer (IO) of the case.

While enquired, assistant superintendent of police Harun ur Rashid at CID in Narayanganj told Prothom Alo that CID collected evidences and interrogated some of the factory officials including the production manager. Witness statements were also recorded.

CID crime scene unit inspector Jahirul Islam told Prothom Alo that eight types of evidences including ashes, charred aluminum, plastic bottles and broken chips of glass window were handed over to the IO. A forensic examination on the evidences will determine what kinds of chemicals were used at the factory.

Workers paid for the month of June

On Tuesday, Hashem Foods authorities started paying workers salary for the month of June. However, family members of the missing workers (probably died in the inferno) were not paid.

Rina Akhter, sister of one missing worker Shahana Akhter, said the authorities did not pay her sister’s salary because of unverified identity. Hashem Foods officials kept Rina’s contact information for further communication.

Senior manager (administration) of the factory, FMA Murad, said wages for June of more than 2,000 workers were paid. Remaining of the workers would get their wages today, Wednesday. Payment for overtime and Eid festival bonus would be paid on 15 and 16 July respectively.

Family members of the injured workers received the wage after showing identity card. A wage sheet for the missing workers was being prepared. “Family members of the missing workers will get compensation and due wages,” Murad said.