2 Years of Churihatta Fire

Justice still a far cry

Staff Correspondent

20 February, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Justice still a far cry

Haji Wahed Mansion, a building in Chawkbazar’s Churihatta where a chemical-fed fire left 71 people burnt alive two years ago. — File PHOTO

Although two years have already elapsed since the devastating fire incident in Old Dhaka’s Churihatta, justice for the victims and their family members is still a far cry. 

The second anniversary of the fire tragedy will be observed today.

On this day in 2019, the fire broke out at a chemical warehouse at Wahed Mansion in Churihatta of Chawkbazar around 10:30pm, leaving 71 people dead. The fire also spread to neighbouring buildings. A case was filed with Chawkbazar police station in this regard.

Two years have already passed but the investigation into the incident has yet to be completed due to negligence of the authorities concerned, said victims’ families.

The families of the victims recently formed a human chain in front of Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery in Dhaka, demanding probe report of the incident and justice.

The victim families alleged that the authorities were reluctant to probe the incident and they are yet to receive any update on the findings of the investigation.

“Owner of Wahed Mansion is yet to be brought to justice,” said Azizul Islam, son of injured Sheikh Mahmud, at the human chain.

Many survivors of Churihatta inferno are still suffering from trauma because of the horror they witnessed during the deadly fire incident.

Recalling the horrific incident, one of the survivors Salauddin Bepari said he is still haunted by the fear that he was in debris after a massive blast at the Wahed Mansion from where the fire originated.

On the eve of the second anniversary of the deadly incident, the families of the dead and survivors urged the government to bring those responsible for the blast to book.

“I was on a rickshaw at the crossing. Suddenly I heard a loud sound. After a while I discovered myself under debris,” said Salauddin, who runs a business at Sadarghat.

Recalling the deadly incident, he said he was returning to Islambagh from his business by a rickshaw at the night of the tragic incident.

The rickshaw got stuck in a nagging traffic gridlock when it reached Churihatra crossing around 10:30pm. Suddenly, I heard a loud sound. I thought it was a blast of the nearby transmitter. Before sensing anything, the wall of the Waheda Mansion fell on me and the rickshaw puller, he recalled.

“I got up from the debris and found the ill-fated rickshaw puller lying under debris. He was dead on the spot,” he said.

“I looked around and found injured people lying on the street. I ran over the bodies for a safe place and phoned my elder brother,” he added. Later, he was taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital with 10 percent burnt.

Just after the fire, a case was filed by Mohammad Asif, son of Jummon Mia, 52, who died in the inferno, accusing 14 people, including the two owners of the building -- Md Hasan and Md Sohel alias Shahid.

The police station is still investigating the case but there has hardly been any progress in the case.

Dhaka chief metropolitan magistrate court is fixing deadlines one after another asking police for submitting the report but the investigation officer is failing to submit the report.

After the incident, the police also detained two accused, but they had secured bail from the court after few days and now they are leading a free life.