Owners close Sitakunda oxygen plants indefinitely over ‘public disgrace’ of Sheema Group director

Owners protest the arrest of Parvez Uddin, a director of the deadly blast-torn Sheema Oxygen plant, after he was taken to court with a rope tied around his waist

Chattogram Bureau
Published : 17 March 2023, 08:59 AM
Updated : 17 March 2023, 08:59 AM

Owners have announced the indefinite closure of all oxygen plants in Chattogram's Sitakunda in protest against the “public disgrace” of Parvez Uddin Shantu, a director of the blast-ravaged Sheema Oxygen factory, following his arrest.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Bangladesh Ship Breakers and Recyclers Association (BSBRA) on Friday in reaction to Parvez being taken to court with a rope tied around his waist.

“Parvez is an industrialist and a member of our association. There was an accident at his plant. It's not like he's a thief or a robber who had to be taken to court with a rope around his waist,” said Abul Kashem, a member of BSBRA's executive committee.

Parvez's treatment was an insult to all industrialists, according to Kashem. “He had a project worth Tk 1 billion destroyed. Many people died in the accident. He shouldn’t be humiliated like this.”

As many as 12 oxygen plants operate in Chattogram. The oxygen produced in these plants is mainly used by ship-breaking and rod-making factories.

However, the production of medical oxygen will not be affected by the strike, said Kashem.

On Mar 4, a horrific blast tore through Sheema Oxygen's Sitakunda plant, leaving at least seven people dead and around 25 others injured.

Parvez is one of the company's directors, along with his two brothers, Mamun Uddin, the managing director of the parent company Sheema Group, and Ashraf Uddin Bappi, another director.

Rokeya Begum, the widow of Abdul Quader who died in the blast, later filed a case against 16 people, including the owners, accusing them of negligence leading to the fatal blast.

Parvez was arrested in the case and later taken to court for a remand hearing on Wednesday. A court subsequently granted police one day to question him in custody.

However, a photo of Parvez appearing in court in handcuffs and a rope tied around his waist went viral on Facebook, much to the chagrin of other plant owners.