Two drivers of MV Abhijan-10 launch sent to jail

The charred launch was anchored in the river bank. The picture was taken from Diakul area in Jhalakathi on 24 December 2021
Prothom Alo file photo

The marine court here on Tuesday ordered to send the two drivers of the MV Abhijan-10 launch to jail in a case related to last month's deadly fire that killed at least 42 passengers of the vessel, reports UNB.

They are - the 8th accused in the case Abul Kalam ( in-charge driver) and the 7th accused Masum Billah (2nd driver).

Earlier on 28 December, the same court sent the two masters of the launch Riaz Sikder (master in charge) and the 6th accused Khalilur Rahman (2nd master) to jail when they surrendered before it.

The court was set up on the 8th floor of BIWTA Bhaban in the city's Motijheel after the launch fire on 24 December.

Sources at the court said the two drivers of the launch surrendered before special metropolitan magistrate Zainab Begum on Sunday morning and applied for bail. After hearing, the court ordered to send them to jail.

Lawyer Billal Hossain, prosecuting officer of the shipping department, confirmed this to UNB. He said that the overall responsibility of the engine room rests with the engine drivers. Not only did they neglect their responsibilities, their role in the aftermath of the fire was presumptuous. The fire was initially reported to have started from the engine room, he said.

If they had managed the engine room properly with perfect supervision, perhaps this horrible tragedy could have been averted, lawyer Billal added.

Lawyer Md Jahangir Hossain argued for the defendants seeking bail.

On 26 December, the chief inspector of the department of shipping Shafiqur Rahman filed a case against eight people, including four owners of the launch, under the marine act with the marine court. The court took cognizance of the case and issued arrest warrants against the accused.

The launch fire took place in the early hours of 24 December on Sugandha river off Jhalakathi town as Abhijan-10 packed with more than 800 passengers was on the way to Barguna from Dhaka.

Police received reports of 42 deaths in the incident. At least 80 people were injured and many others reported missing.