Garment Workers Trade Union Centre organised a candle light programme to commemorate deaths in Rana Plaza tragedy. Garment worker Marzina Akhtar died in the incident. Her son is standing with a candle to commemorate his mother's death. The picture was taken in front of the site of Rana Plaza collapse building on 23 April 2021.
Hasan Raja

Ashraful Islam was born in a poor family at Gauripur of Mymensingh. When he was only 18 he came to Dhaka in search of work. He joined a garment factory in Rana Plaza of Savar. Ill-fated Ashraful lost his life in the Rana Plaza collapse on 24 April 2013. As many as 1,135 people were killed in the tragic accident. A murder case was lodged against Rana Plaza owner Sohel Rana. The trial of the case is not complete as yet.

Ashraful's father Yousuf Ali is a witness in the case. This poor farmer is upset as the trial of the case has not finished even in eight years.

Speaking to Prothom Alo on Monday, he said, "We are poor and so my younger son went to Dhaka where he started working in a garment factory. But he returned home dead."

Yousuf Ali, a father of three sons and a daughter, said, "We didn't get any compensation. I hoped before my death I will see the death sentence of my son's murderer. But the trial has not been finished yet."

When will the trial be finished? How many years will the workers have to wait for justice? We want to see justice."
Kalpana Akhtar, executive director, Bangladesh Centre for Workers Solidarity

Three cases have been filed in connection with the Rana Plaza incident. One of these is a murder case. One case has been filed under the Building Construction Act. Another case was filed against Sohel Rana on charges of corruption in the design of the building. None of the cases is finished yet. Court sources said Dhaka district and sessions judge court framed charges against 41 people including Sohel Rana on 18 July 2016. Of the accused, Sohel Rana alone is in jail. And 32 accused are on bail while six are on the run. Two of the accused have died.

Public prosecutors said eight accused filed petitions with the High Court challenging the charge framing. After hearing, the court gave an anticipatory stay order. Later the stay order against six accused was withdrawn.

Public prosecutor Mizanur Rahman, who represents the state in the case, said the deposition in the case has not been started as the stay order against two accused is in force.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, he said the stay order against the then Savar pourashava mayor Refaetullah and the then councilor Mohammad Ali Khan are still in force. So the deposition has not been started, he added.

About the matter, attorney general AM Amin Uddin said necessary steps would be taken so that the proceedings of the case would be revived after the court resumes normal function which is hampered due to coronavirus.

Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) filed the case on charges of violating the Building Construction Act while building the Rana Plaza. The Criminal Investigation Department of police submitted a charge sheet against 18 people including Rana Plaza owner Sohel Rana on 26 April 2015. Chief judicial magistrate court of Dhaka framed charges on 14 June 2015. However, the deposition in the case has not started. Public prosecutor Anwarul Kabir said the deposition in this case could not start as there is a stay order in this case too against the then Savar pourashava Refaetullah.

Rana Plaza owner Sohel Rana.
File photo

The deposition is being carried out at the Dhaka divisional special judge court in the case filed on charges of corruption in the design of the building, said Faruq Ahmed, the lawyer of accused Sohel Rana.

Disappointment as trial not finished

Hashi Begum, a resident of Madaripur, fortunately survived the Rana Plaza collapse. She was critically injured in the chest and legs. Despite receiving treatment, she could not return to work. Her colleague Rehana died in the accident. Hashi Begum is still haunted by that horrific incident.

Hashi Begum is disappointed as those responsible for the tragic accident and deaths of so many people, are not brought to book yet.

She said, "We did not get justice in eight years. I have not received any compensation."

Bangladesh Centre for Workers Solidarity executive director Kalpana Akhtar blamed the negligence of the state as the trial has not been finished yet.

She said, "When will the trial be finished? How many years the workers have to wait for justice? We want to see justice."

*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print and online editions, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.