Describing the horrific fire at the Hashem Food and Beverage factory in Narayanganj as an incident of murder, BNP on Sunday questioned the role of the Fire Service and Civil Defence as it took huge time to put out the blaze.
“Our standing committee meeting thinks that this (factory fire) incident falls into the category of murder,” said BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
Speaking at a virtual press conference, he said, “The meeting also raised a question about the role of the fire brigade in dealing with the incident. It can’t be acceptable that they could not douse the fire in 27 hours.”
The press conference was arranged to unveil the decisions of the BNP standing committee’s virtual meeting held on Saturday evening.
Fakhrul said their party thinks the fire incident happened due to administrative weakness and lack of regular inspection and monitoring of the factory’s construction quality, working atmosphere and fire extinguishing system by the agencies concerned under the Industries Ministry.
He demanded a fair and impartial investigation into the fire incident to unearth the reasons behind the blaze. "Those who are responsible must be brought to justice immediately, and relatives of those killed and injured will have to be provided with proper compensations.”
The BNP leader said their standing committee expressed deep shock over the huge loss of lives in the fire at Hashem Food and Beverage factory.
He said they also voiced anger at the ‘extreme negligence’ of the government’s agencies concerned in reducing the factory fire and ensuring a safe working environment for the workers.
A massive fire swept through a seven-storey building housing the Hashem Food at Bhulta Karnagop in Narayanganj’s Rupgan, killing at least 52 people and injuring many others.
About the Covid crisis, Fakhrul said the National Technical Advisory Committee’s suggestion for enforcing a curfew in the country cannot be a solution to the virus outbreak.
He said even the current lockdown is also not an effective way to get rid of the coronavirus without ensuring food and cash support for the needy and day labourers.
"The goal of the lockdown is to prevent infections by keeping people indoors. We’ve to take proper action for that. Where’s that awareness? It’s useless to put the poor people in jail,” the BNP leader said.
He said many people are being subjected to harassment while the poor are going through serious suffering for lack of food during the lockdown.
Fakhrul said around 4,500 people were arrested for coming out on the streets amid the lockdown and most of them are poor people like rickshaw or van pullers and restaurant workers. “Even a father died for lack of oxygen as his son was arrested for coming out of the home to collect an oxygen cylinder.”
He condemned a circular of Dhaka Civil Surgeon’s office asking doctors not to share information of coronavirus patients with the media.
”Such a circular has proved that they (govt) want to hide information. The number of infections and deaths is much higher than the number presented by the government. The efforts to conceal such information are contrary to press freedom and democracy.”
Fakhrul urged the government to increase the beds, doctors, oxygen cylinders, and other necessary medical equipment to ensure the proper treatment of Covid patients at the government hospitals as the virus has spread across the country.
He alleged that a widespread plundering has been there for a long time in the name of constructing houses meant for landless people as the Prime Minister’s gift under the Ashrayan Project.
The BNP leader called upon the government to halt the project which their party thinks was taken as ‘eyewash’ aiming to plunder public money.
Fakhrul also urged the government to ensure punishment to those indulged in corruption in the project after identifying them through a neutral investigation.
He condemned the arrest of Tanvir Hasan alias Tanu, Thakurgaon district correspondent of Independent TV and the national daily Ittefaq, in a case filed under the Digital Security Act.
The BNP leader demanded Tanu’s immediate release.