Sitakunda oxygen plants call off strike over ‘public disgrace’ of Sheema Group director

One of the owners says the authorities apologised for the “public disgrace” of Parvez Uddin Shantu, a director of the blast-ravaged Sheema Oxygen factory

Published : 17 March 2023, 09:56 PM
Updated : 17 March 2023, 09:56 PM

Owners have called off the 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 to end the strike was taken after the authorities apologised in a meeting on Friday night, said Nazmul Islam, secretary of the Bangladesh Ship Breakers and Recyclers Association or BSBRA.

Representatives of the district administration and Industrial Police attended the meeting.

“They’ve assured us of taking steps to stop the recurrence of such incidents,” said Nazmul.

The BSBRA called the strike on Friday morning 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,” Abul Kashem, a member of BSBRA's executive committee, had said earlier.

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.

The production of medical oxygen was not 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.