The fire, which broke out in the early hours of Thursday, burnt three-fourth of the slum into ashes, causing immense loss to at least 221 families.
According to a number of residents, the fire originated in the three-storey tin-made house owned by a couple named Moni Akhter and Mohammad Hasan.
Several of her neighbours told the Dhaka Tribune that Moni is a big shot drug dealer in the slum who had an altercation with another drug dealer a few days ago.
Rezaul Karim, one of her neighbours, said Moni Akhter owed Tk1.08 lakh to the other drug dealer, also named Moni, which she had to return last week.
A few hours after she received the money, Moni, her assistant Rahan, who lived in the slum, and her drug supplier Salim M Miah were arrested by police.
Locals said they heard a rumour that Moni Akhter got the trio arrested.
Mohammadpur police station OC Jamal Uddin Mir confirmed the arrest and said the trio were in jail when the fire took place.
He said the slum was one of the largest drug selling points under the jurisdiction of the police station.
Slum residents suspect that the fire was caused by drug-related dispute because it has happened several times before.
There has been at least four other fire incidents in the slum since 2000 which were caused by either drug-related disputes or simply a drug addict throwing a fit, said Rajib Hossain, a resident in the slum.
Victims claim they did not receive compensation
Some of the families affected by the fire claimed they did not receive the compensation package that the local ward councillor’s office distributed on Friday morning.
The office of Tarequzzaman Rajib, councillor of Dhaka North City Corporation’s (DNCC) Ward 33 which includes Mohammadpur, gave 30kg of rice, Tk3,000 in cash, a lungi, a sari and a children’s shirt to each affected family.
However, a number of families claimed that they did not receive the package as they had to go to work. Some others claimed they did not get it even though they had been listed for the compensation.
However, when contacted, Ward Councillor Rajib refuted the allegations and said everyone who had been on the list for the package had received it, and those who did not might have not been included on the list properly.
‘Move or evict the slum’
Mahadi Hasan, former secretary of the Cimex Rayan Flat Owners’ Association in Cimex Rayan residential building, said the slum was right beside the building and was a cause for concern for the building’s residents, mainly due to security issues.
Shahin Akhter, one of the residents, said the slum was a chaotic place where fights often break out, and fire incidents are also common there, which put the building at risk.
Thursday’s fire caused substantial damage to some of the flats in the building, sources said.
Mahadi said the association had contacted both local lawmaker Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Ward Councillor Rajib to either evict the slum or move it far away from the building.
Asked about Mahadi and Shahin’s concerns, the ward councillor said he would meet with the flat owners today to discuss the matter.