Café Queen owners among three arrested over deadly explosion

Police vow to bring relevant stakeholders to account after a deadly explosion in the building killed 21 people

Published : 9 March 2023, 10:30 AM
Updated : 9 March 2023, 10:30 AM

Police have arrested three people, including two owners of the Café Queen building in Old Dhaka's Siddique Bazar, in the wake of a horrific explosion that killed 21 and injured dozens.

The arrestees are Md Wahidur Rahman, 46, and Matiur Rahman, 35, sons of the building’s original owner, the late Hazi Mohammad Rezaur Rahman. The other detainee is Abdul Motaleb Mintu, 36, the owner of a sanitary shop in the building.

"Nobody, including the owners of the building, can avoid accountability for such a big incident. The building was not well-maintained and the sewage lines weren't regularly monitored," said Harunor Rashid, additional commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Detective Branch.

"On top of that, the building owners rented out the parking space to be used as a warehouse despite a ban and traders took advantage of the situation."

“If anyone else is found involved in the incident, they will also be brought to justice,” he said.

An explosion ripped through the building on North South Road on Tuesday afternoon.

Firefighters retrieved 20 bodies in the first two days of the rescue mission in the building, which was declared risky in the wake of the explosion. The operation continued into a third day as at least one more victim, Mehedi Hasan Swapan, remained missing. Emergency workers recovered his body from the rubble afterwards, bringing the death toll from the disaster to 21.

Currently, 27 other victims of the explosion are hospitalised with injuries.

The owner of the seven-story building was Rezaur Rahman, who had opened the Café Queen restaurant on the third floor. Though the restaurant has been closed for several years, locals still refer to the building by the name of the restaurant.

Rezaur died long ago. The ownership of the building passed onto his sons after his death. One of them, Moshiur Rahman, lives overseas.

Among the three, the eldest Wahidur and the youngest Matiur live in Dhaka. The two of them handle the maintenance of the blast-hit building.

Wahidur and Matiur were summoned to the DB Headquarters in Dhaka for interrogation on Wednesday, a day after the explosion.

“Legal action against the building owners will depend on reports submitted by the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) and the fire service," said Zafar Hossain, deputy commissioner of DMP’s Lalbagh division.

“If the reports find any violations in the construction of the building and negligence of the owners, they will be brought to justice. The section of the case filed over unnatural deaths will be changed in that case.”