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Jhalokathi launch fire

Launch owner, 24 others sued

Writ petition seeks Tk 50 lakh compensation for each victim

Published : 26 Dec 2021 10:33 PM | Updated : 27 Dec 2021 03:19 PM

Another case has been filed over the Jhalokathi launch fire incident that took place in the early hours of Friday.

Advocate Nazmul Islam Nasir, chairman of Baliatoli Union Parishad in Barguna, filed the case at a Barguna court on Sunday (December 26).

Earlier on Saturday, Md Jahangir Hossain, a village police member and a resident of Diakul village under Ponabalia union of Jhalokathi sadar upazila, filed a case with Jhalakathi police station. Police recorded it as an ‘unnatural death’ case.

Hanzalal Sheikh, the owner of MV Abhijan-10, and 24 other unnamed people were sued in the Sunday’s case. Chief Judicial Magistrate of Barguna Muhammad Mahbub Alam accepted the case and asked the police station concerned to take the complaint as a First Information Report (FIR).

The court’s administrative officer Akhter Hossain confirmed the matter to the media.

Saifur Rahman Shohag, a lawyer for the plaintiff, said that it is obvious that the owner and staff of the launch were negligent in the devastating launch fire that left at least 41 people dead. 

Advocate Nazmul Islam Nasir said, “I believe that the owner and those responsible for the incident should be brought to justice. That is why I have filed the case. I demand immediate arrest of the accused in the case.”

Meanwhile, a Supreme Court lawyer filed a writ petition with the High Court, seeking its directive on the authorities concerned to give Tk 50 lakh as compensation to the families of each victim who died in the deadly launch fire and Tk 20 lakh for each critically injured victim.

Md Eunus Ali Akond submitted the petition as public interest litigation. Shipping Secretary, Chairman of the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) and Hanzalal Sheikh, owner of MV Obhijan-10, were made respondents in the writ petition.

In the petition, the lawyer also requested the government to constitute a judicial commission to conduct an inquiry into the incident.

It was also said in the writ petition that the victims of the fire incident on the launch are the citizens of Bangladesh. However, the authorities concerned about the launch and the government have failed to save their lives which is a violation of Article 32 of the constitution regarding the right to life.

Eunus Ali Akond said that he would place the writ petition before the HC bench led by Justice M Enayetur Rahim on Monday (today) for a hearing.

At least 41 passengers were burned to death and 72 others were received serious burn  injuries after a massive fire broke out in the engine room of the launch in the middle of Sugandha River off the coast of Jhalakathi Sadar Upazila early on Friday.

The blaze broke out at 3:00 am on the Barguna-bound Obhijan-10 launch carrying around 1,000 passengers from Dhaka and it engulfed the entire vessel within 10 minutes.

After the incident, the government announced Tk 1.5 lakh as compensation to the families of each victim who lost their lives in the deadly fire.

A total of 23 unidentified victims were buried in a mass grave on the banks of Khakdon River in Potkakhali village in Barguna on Saturday. However, the condition of many other victims, who are undergoing treatment at the Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery of Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), is still critical.

Meanwhile, the search drive in the Sugandha River was going on for the 3rd consecutive day on Sunday for tracing those who went missing following the massive fire.

The divers from the local fire service and Coast Guard resumed the search operation on Saturday morning and it was still continuing, said Khalilur Rahman, officer-in-charge (OC) of Jhalokathi Sadar police station.

Besides, the control room, set up by the local administration, listed the names of 25 missing people with the information given by their relatives and family members.

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