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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

11 years of Rana Plaza: Victims still in agony as demands yet to be fulfilled

  • Their demands include to complete trial soon 
  • Compensation, rehabilitation for victim, injured families
Update : 24 Apr 2024, 07:11 PM

“My elder son Abu Zafar Sentu was working on the eighth floor while my younger son Sekendar was on the sixth floor. I found the body of the elder son after 16 days. His body was retrieved under the wreckage of the Rana plaza cutting it with a machine. But I did not find the body of my younger son. He is still missing.” 

These were the words of Ruby Begum, a hapless mother who lost her two sons 11 years ago in the tragic incident of Rana Plaza.

Ruby Begum said she has yet to get any justice as she did not receive any compensation for the tragic loss.

Sharing her agony, Ruby Begum said that she was having miserable days. Her elder son left behind a son who is now studying at a madrasa. Her grandson lives with her. Currently, she is running a tea shop. They are leading their lives in a miserable condition. 

Many others lost their relatives like Ruby Akhter in Rana Plaza in Savar on April 24, 2013. Thousands of workers became physically disabled and they are still bearing those wounds in their bodies. 

Since that incident, the victim workers and the relatives of the dead workers have been demanding compensation, rehabilitation and justice. 

Even after 11 years, that demand has not been fulfilled.

Members of various organizations pay tribute to the monument dedicated to the victims of the tragedy in Savar on Wednesday, April 24, 2024. Photo: Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Wednesday marks the 11th anniversary of the collapse of Rana Plaza in Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka, which left over 1,100 people dead in the deadliest garment factory disaster in history.

It was the morning of April 24, 2013. Workers came to Rana Plaza to work like every other day. Suddenly there was a loud noise. The entire seven-storey building crumbled at around 9:30am. The search for the dead ended the following month, with a death toll of 1,136.

Eleven years on, nightmares still haunt the survivors of the collapse. 

Discussions and meetings are held on that day, but then everyone becomes silent. 

The victim families and workers demanded compensation, rehabilitation and justice before the end of an era.

Monir Hossain worked on the fourth floor of Rana Plaza. When the building collapsed, he got trapped under the rubble. He was rescued under the debris of the building after three days and he is still carrying those wounds. 

While narrating the horrific experience of that day, he said that there was a power cut around 8:45am. When the generator started after the power cut the building collapsed immediately. 

“I was present there. I used to work on the fourth floor. The machine that was near my feet got stuck in the feet. I fell down and fainted. After 10-15 minutes, when I regained consciousness, I found myself trapped in the building. Then I heard screams. There was no way to get out. I was stuck like this for three days. The building collapsed on Wednesday and the rescue workers pulled me out around 2pm on Friday,” said Monir. 

Stating that he is currently living a miserable life, he said: “Still I am sick. I got sick five months ago. There was a liver problem. There was blood with vomit. If I got admitted to hospital, it would cost lakhs of money. But where will I get the money?”

Saleha, a worker working on the sixth floor of the building, said angrily: "What has the government done in the last 12 years?" Leaders come every year and take pictures. But we did not get anything. We have yet to get justice.” 

Even after 11 years, Taslima Begum, an injured worker, cannot forget that horrific day. 

She said: “I always remember that day. I can't forget it forever. Nobody did anything for us. Now I lead my life by collecting bottles and selling them at shops. My legs are broken. I could not do any work. There is no trial of those who are behind this tragic incident. Now we pray that they get punishment from Allah.” 

Meanwhile, the labour leaders said that due to the lack of goodwill of the government, the workers have not yet received their fair dues. They demanded to take the initiative for this. 

Abul Hossain, president of the Textile Garments Workers Federation, said that the government's goodwill is needed in the trial of the case. The government filed a case. If they wanted, they could complete the trial in 11 years. Date has been changed 48 times in the case in 11 years. 

The government prosecutor on Tuesday said in a meeting that there are various problems. About 500 witnesses are not available. They live in different parts and do not get travel expenses. Lawyers don't get money from there either. 

“One era of the incident will be completed in the next year. Before that, we want this case to be completed," said Abul Hossain. 

Khairul Mamun Mintu, legal affairs secretary of Bangladesh Garment and Sweaters Workers Trade Union Centre, said that 11 years of Rana Plaza are passing. But still, no compensation, rehabilitation, treatment has been given to the workers. The sad thing is that even after 11 years, the plaintiffs of the incident are still running their businesses. 

“We want immediate compensation, rehabilitation, and treatment of Rana Plaza workers. Those responsible for this incident must be prosecuted,” said Khairul Mamun.

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