“So-called shutdown supporters were banging the weak pillars to shut the factories (during the opposition’s strike),” he said at a press briefing at his ministry on Thursday.
It would be investigated to see if this had caused or accelerated the cave-in, he said.
He repeatedly referred to the matter at the briefing.
Journalists had raised questions in this regard based on his interview to the BBC on Wednesday.
In the interview, Alamgir had said shutdown supporters pounded the pillars – which according to him already had cracks on them – and the gate of the building. He said this could be the reason behind the collapse.
“...The fundamentalists BNP had called the shutdown. I was told some hired supporters went there and shook the gates…and the pillars… This might be the reason behind the collapse,” he had said.
When asked whether it was possible, he said, “... When part of a building caves in, it affects the whole. This might have happened.”
Alamgir’s comments generated much heat in the media and social networks.
It is, however, not clear if his comments were aimed to shield the building owner – one from his party – Juba League Senior Joint Convenor Sohel Rana. The owner had dismissed the cracks that surfaced a day before the collapse as ‘nothing serious’.
There were five readymade garment units housed in the ill-fated building. Allegations rose that the owners forced the workers inside the building for work.
Death toll from the collapse is climbing to stand at 187 around 2:00pm on Thursday. Over a thousand were injured and many were still missing. There were about 3,500 workers employed in those five garment units.
Building owner Sohel Rana himself was trapped in the basement of the building. He was rescued by local MP Touhid Jong Murad.
Home Minister had said culprits identified in probe would not be spared at any cost, no matter they were ‘relatives of any party or person’. “Nobody will be spared on the basis of wealth.”