‘Pressure’ from the readymade garment factory owners had made him to allow work in the building which had developed cracks, claims Mohammad Sohel Rana, the owner of multi-storey that has reduced to rubble at Savar.
The nine-storey Rana Plaza came crushing down on Wednesday,
burying alive nearly 400 people so far under heaps of steel and blocks of
He made the claim on Sunday, the fifth day since the commercial
structure collapsed, while speaking to journalists at the Rapid Action Battalion
(RAB) headquarters in the capital in the afternoon.
After his capture in
Jessore’s Benapole along with two others, he was flown to old airport in Dhaka’s
Tejgaon by a RAB helicopter at around 5pm.
Then they were driven to RAB
headquarters at Uttara in a microbus and presented before the press.
Director General Mokhlesur Rahman told reporters there, “Rana is responsible for
the deaths at Savar.”
But Rana, who has been sought since Wednesday,
said, “I did not force the [garments] owners, but it was them who forced me
saying they will face huge loss and shipments will be cancelled if the factories
were closed even for a day.”
However, Mokhlesur Rahman said, “Rana forced
the workers to join duty.”
On Tuesday, workers of five readymade garments
factories had panicked and run out of the Rana Plaza near Savar Bus Stand after
huge cracks surfaced on the wall. Industrial Police, the agency that secures
garment factories, and BGMEA officials had also visited the
They had recommended shutting down the building until it was
examined by engineers. A bank and some shops on the first floor had shut their
premises on Wednesday.
The building, constructed over 56 decimals of land
caved in with some 3,500 people inside it after the garment factories resumed
work in the morning.
The workers who survived the collapse claimed that
they were ‘forced’ into work by the factory owners despite their refusal after
safety alerts raised by the Industrial Police the previous day.
factory owners who were arrested recently over the incident claimed that it was
the building’s owner Rana who ‘put pressure’ on them to keep running their
Rana, a Senior Joint Convenor of Savar Juba League unit,
blamed the heavy machinery used in the garment factories for the building’s
collapse. He claimed to have notified the factory owners several times regarding
Allegations have risen that Rana Plaza was not constructed
three years ago in line with the Building Construction Act. RAJUK also sued the
building owner after the collapse. Two engineers of the Savar municipality were
also arrested on charges of neglecting duties.
Meanwhile, cracks also
surfaced in another building owned by Sohel Rana at the Bazar Road on
Rana was on the ground floor when the building
started to collapse on Wednesday morning. But he was afraid to leave the
building because of the enraged people.
Witnesses said local Awami League
MP Talukdar Mohammad Towhid Jung Murad came to his rescue and took him away from
the multi-storied building, of which now only three stories are standing above
But Rana at press briefing on Sunday claimed that locals had
rescued him, not Murad.
The local MP, however, has been rejecting the
allegations linking him to aiding Rana. Leaders of main opposition BNP have also
claimed Rana is backed by Murad.
Asked about his political identity, Rana
said he was the General Secretary of Bangladesh Chhatra League’s Savar
municipality unit. Later he became the Convenor of Juba League, the youth front
of ruling Awami League.
But when asked how he got the post of Senior
Joint Convenor of the Juba League Savar municipality unit, he remained
The BNP has alleged that the government helped Rana to
Asked whether anyone had aided Rana to flee, RAB intelligence
chief Lt Col Ziaul Ahsan said, “No. If anyone had aided and provided shelter to
him, he wouldn’t have to stay at three places before getting to
RAB said Rana was there and had fainted after the building
collapsed. He received treatment at a local hospital at Savar for two
Then he came to Dhaka and spent Wednesday night at the house of a
friend named ‘Shamim’. Rana went to Manikganj and spent two nights at the house
of one ‘Afzal’. From there, he went to Anil’s house in Faridpur and spent
Saturday night there, Rahman said.
Rana then went to Mithu’s residence
along with Anil on Sunday. RAB arrested all of them there, Rahman
Jessore RAB Commander Major Jahiduzzaman said Rana was arrested
while hiding in the house of a distant relative named Shah Alam Mithu at