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Delay in Rana Plaza charge framing unacceptable

THE Criminal Investigation Department looks set to miss yet another deadline for submission of charge sheets in the two criminal cases related to the April 24, 2013 collapse of Rana Plaza at Savar, which left at least 1,135 people killed, so suggests a report published in New Age on Tuesday.  The report quotes a senior superintendent of police as saying that the department plans to submit the charge sheets by mid-March, although the judicial magistrate’s court concerned asked it to do so on February 19. The department earlier missed two deadlines set by the court — November 24 and December 24, 2014.
In the wake of the deadliest disaster in the apparel sector, the police filed a criminal case against the owners of the building and the apparel factories housed there and Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha against the Savar municipality, which is reported to have complicit in the construction of the illegal and ill-fated eight-storey structure. Moreover, the family of one of the victims filed a murder case with a Dhaka court. With the government high-up having pledged expeditious arrest, prosecution and punishment of those responsible, it was generally expected that the investigators would be prompt in completing the task in hand. Such expectations, it now seems, may have been misplaced and premature.
The repeated failures of the investigators to meet the deadlines for submission of charge sheets in 10 months since the disaster could very well prompt people in general, and friends and relatives of the victims in particular, to suspect whether the government is at all sincere about ensuring justice. It is all the more so because, of the 21 arrested so far in connection with the cases, six, including two apparel factory owners, have already been released on bail. Moreover, only three of the arrested, associates of Sohel Rana, a local Juba League leader and also one of the owners of Rana Plaza, have given statements under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure thus far.
The government needs to ensure that the investigators make no further delay in submitting charge sheets in the cases. At the same time, the conscious section of society also needs to raise their voice against such foot-dragging by the investigators. It cannot be denied that exemplary punishment for those responsible for the Rana Plaza collapse will for sure send warning to the errant building owners and apparel factory owners who more often than not compromise workers safety for profit.

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