No Justice even in death


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photo credit: Quamrul Abedin Mugdho

Adil Sakhawat investigates how there is no respite for the Savar victims

Khaleda Akhter, an RMG worker, was one of the victims of the Rana Plaza disaster. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina provided a grant for the family members of victims like Khaleda. However, her husband and two children are yet to see a single penny from that fund, as it has been alleged that her uncle and parents misappropriated her share from the grant. Khaleda’s husband Jasim Uddin lodged a case with the Barisal Chief Judicial Magistrate Court accusing six of Khaleda’s family members.

Lead investigator
“After a primary police investigation, it has been proven that Khaleda’s uncle Mizanur Rahman and her parents collected the money by using false identification documents. Earlier, Jasim Uddin lodged a general diary with this police station when Khaleda’s uncle refused to give him the documents provided by district rescuers committee that came along with Khaleda’s body.”

Mostafizur Rahman, sub-inspector, Airport police station, Barisal metropolitan police

Government representatives
“Khaleda’s two children have a right to the money provided by the prime minister. When I heard from Khaleda’s husband, I ordered her parents to deposit Tk100,000 in the name of her children. Aside from her children and husband, no one else should have access to that fund.
“I cannot remember what information was provided by Khaleda’s parents, but I will check that again. I will also tell the union parisad chairman to look into it, as he knew the details about the case.”

Abdur Rouf, upazila nirbahi officer (UNO), Jhalakathi sadar

“As far as I remember, Khaleda’s parents mentioned her children in the documents, and I also gave them the testimonial where the children were mentioned.”

Alin Sarder, union parisad chairman, Binoykathi, Jhalakathi

The husband
“When I first went to the UNO, he seemed confused since my wife’s family did not mention anything about our children in any of the documents.
“I called Khaleda’s uncle Mizanur Rahman several times for the death certificate, but he did not give me the documents and also threatened to kill me. Then one day, I heard they had taken the money from the Prime Minister’s funds for Rana Plaza victims without informing me. All this for just Tk100,000. This money belongs to my two children.”

Jasim Uddin

Families of other victims
“I have two children and my husband’s parents are alive. We received Tk300,000 from the Prime Minister’s funds. I feel sad for Khaleda’s children; I hope the matter is resolved soon.”

Bulbuli, wife of the deceased Sumon, who worked on the third floor of Rana Plaza

“I got Tk100,000 from the fund, and my daughter’s husband got Tk200,000 for their two children. I heard many stories similar to Khaleda’s. It seems as if there is some sort of conspiracy between certain family members of the victims, along with the authority in charge of disbursing the funds. This is just another example of how people are profiting from a disaster that destroyed so many lives. It’s just sad that even in death, Khaleda’s soul cannot find any peace.”

Father of a Rana Plaza victim, requesting anonymity

Prime suspect
“Whatever you want, you can do it. I don’t care. Do not call me again.”

Mizanur Rahman, Khaleda’s uncle and also the primary convict in the case lodged by Jasim Uddin.

“Someone has obviously been giving you false information. It’s true that we took Tk100,000 from the funds, but that money has been set aside solely for Khaleda’s children, in a separate bank account in Krishi Bank. We haven’t touched a single penny.  Jashim, who has a personal vendetta against us, is essentially slandering our name. He used to beat up my daughter regularly and also abuse both my grandchildren. He is the dishonest one here, not us.”

Abdus Salam Hawlader, Khaleda’s father, and also the second person accused in the case lodged by Jasim Uddin.

Witness
“Jasim and Khaleda lived in my house for more than a year. I never observed any quarrels between them. Khaleda was a very hardworking woman and she always thought about the future of her children. Both Jasim and Khaleda were honest people and do not deserve this kind of dishonesty from their loved ones.”

Khadiza Begum, owner of the building where Jasim and Khaleda lived with their children

Lawyer
“It is definitely a case of fraud, and based on the police report, it has been proven that Khaleda’s uncle submitted forged documents to take the money and had threatened my client Jasim Uddin. It is a violation of the law under section 406/420/467/471/109/506(2) of the penal code. The court had issued a warrant for the arrest of the first perpetrator and has issued summons for the others, at the next court hearing.”

Abdul Mannan Mridha, advocate, Bangladesh Supreme Court

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