25 more Tazreen fire deceased named to High CourtM Moneruzzaman
Names of 25 workers, not included in the official confirmed list of 99 workers who died in the Tazreen Fashions fire in November 2012, have been filed in the High Court by the anthropologists who had earlier petitioned the court to take action against government authorities for their failure to prosecute Tazreen Fashions owner Delwar Hossain.
This could question the accuracy of the government’s official figure of 112 – 99 identified workers and 13 unidentified — as the number of the people who died in the fire.
The petitioners in their petition filed on September 16 also claim that the number of the people who died could be much higher.
‘The petitioners have reasonable belief that the number [of deaths] would be higher if they could access all the information and also could physically visit the places where the workers mainly come from,’ the petition states.
None of these families have received any compensation.
The Bangladesh Garments and Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association at an earlier hearing told the High Court that it had paid Tk 7 lakh in compensation to successors of each of the 99 identified dead workers.
The High Court bench of Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque and Justice ABM Altaf Hossain is likely to consider the list of workers today when the matter is due to come up for hearing.
The anthropologists also filed with the court the details of 10 injured workers who received no compensation and 10 more workers who received Tk 1 lakh to show the inadequate level of compensation in the context of their medical costs and other financial requirements.
The BGMEA said that it had paid Tk 1 lakh to each of the 90 seriously injured workers.
Anthropologist Saydia Gulrukh Kamal told New Age that the names of the dead and injured were found through research in January and was being submitted to the court in compliance of its order.
The missing workers, according to the anthropologists, are Monwara Khatun, Rozina and Maksuda who are mother and daughter, Laily, Lovely and Poppy who are three sisters, Ahenur Begum, Rehana, Asma alias Morsheda, Mahfuza Begum, Salma, Hena, Aklia, Sabuj Mia, Sadekul Islam, Shila, Shahin Akhter, Omar Faruk, Iana Jahan Ria, Shahana Sharmin, Sultana, Azad Mia, Bipul, Rafiqul and Shamsher.
According to the writ petitioners, the government reported 112 workers as dead in the Tazreen fire. Out of the 53 workers who were originally buried as unclaimed in the capital, 41 were later identified through DNA testing. Thirteen more workers remain unidentified according to the government, they said.
‘As part of our survey research, we have all the necessary documentation on the  missing workers. We also have enclosed communication with families of the workers,’ the affidavit to the court states.
The anthropologists also argue that DNA testing is not necessarily the best way to identify the missing workers, saying that they have found three problems with the existing system of using DNA as the sole basis of identification of the unidentified dead bodies.
‘Firstly, the Tazreen fire situation is not an ideal situation of collecting forensic evidence,’ an annex to the the affidavit says.
‘Secondly, when dead bodies were placed in body-bags each workers body was not reconstructed by forensic experts. Thus there are chances that one body-bag may have remains of one or many dead workers. Thirdly… the National Forensic and DNA Profiling Centre at the DMCH does not have the most technological infrastructure to perform such delicate task of identifying bodies of Tazreen workers burnt beyond recognition.’
The affidavit says, ‘We try to solve the identification process of missing workers by getting engaged with the community and victims’ families.’
After hearing a writ petition filed by anthropologists Naznin Akhter Banu, Saydia Gulrukh Kamal and Mahmudul Hasan Sumon, the High Court on May 19 asked the home secretary and the inspector general of police to explain why they would not be directed to initiate criminal action against Delwar, who was yet to be arrested although the government’s investigation committee had recommended his prosecution.
It also asked Delwar to explain why he should not be directed to give adequate compensation to the fire victims.
The government investigation committee, headed by an additional home secretary, submitted the report to the home secretary on December 17, 2012 recommending the arrest and prosecution of the factory owner and managing director Delwar Hossain on charges of causing death of the workers by negligence.
The report, a copy of which is available with New Age, also recommended prosecution of nine others including Delwar’s wife, who is also Tazreen Fashions Limited director, its manager M Abdur Razzaq, production manager M Mobarak Hossain Manju, quality manager M Shahiduzzaman Dulal, assistant production manager M Sohel Rana, assistant general manager Harun or Rashid, security in-charge Al Amin and engineer M Mahabubul Morshed on the same charge.
The Criminal Investigation Department is now investigating the Tazreen fire case.
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