Police quiz owners for details of Siddique Bazar building after devastating blast

Police will take legal action if investigations find owners at fault for the deaths and the damage caused by the explosion

Senior Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 8 March 2023, 02:35 PM
Updated : 8 March 2023, 02:35 PM

Police are questioning the owners of the building at Siddique Bazar in Old Dhaka, where a devastating explosion killed at least 19 people and injured more than 100 others. 

The law enforcers are looking for details of the structure, including registration, number of tenants, septic tank, and permission to rent out the basement, said KH Mahid Uddin, an additional commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police. 

They were not yet arrested, Mahid said on Wednesday.

A massive explosion ripped through the seven-storey building on North South Road late on Tuesday afternoon. In addition to the owners and employees at different stores inside the building, pedestrians and vehicles were also caught in the blast. 

Locals said three brothers own the building after the death of their father, the original owner who constructed it around four decades ago.

One of the sons, Mashiur Rahman, lives abroad. The other two, Wahidur Rahman and Matiur Rahman, looked after the building and were currently being questioned.

Police also interrogated others, including tenants.

Md Zafar Hossain, a deputy commissioner of DMP, said reports from the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha, the capital development authority, Fire Service and Civil Defence and other agencies would clarify the need to take legal action against the owners. 

“If their reports state that the building had issues and the owners were at fault, we will take action against them. In that case, the charges over unnatural death will change.” 

Police would consider any complaints by individuals harmed in the incident, he added.

BUILDING CONSTRUCTED IN ‘1980S’

The registration documents of the building could not be found on Tuesday or Wednesday due to national holidays over Dol Jatra and Shab-e-Barat.

Md Hamidul Islam, a director of RAJUK who visited the blast site near North South Road on Wednesday, said they believed the building was constructed during the 1980s.

“Everyone was telling, that the building is about 40-45 years old. We can’t say anything before seeing the documents. The records officer has been instructed and we’ll get the information soon.”

He said two committees were being formed - one by the RAJUK and the other with experts to look into the incident.

“A RAJUK director might lead a five-member committee which will include RAJUK officials from different departments. Another committee might be formed to recommend what to do after the incident. BUET professors will be in that committee.”

The fire service thinks the explosion was “an accident”.

The building housed sanitary stores and warehouses on the first two floors and the basement, with the shuttered Café Queen restaurant on the second floor. Though the restaurant has been closed for several years, locals still refer to the building by the name of the restaurant.

The first two floors collapsed on the basement after the blast, trapping people inside. At least one man was still missing on Wednesday night. Relatives were waiting in front of the building awaiting word from rescue workers.

There is only a two-foot gap between the devastated building and the one on its north. It has virtually no gap with the building on the south.

The families of the building’s owners resided on the third and fifth floors. Tenants lived on the upper floors.