June 20, 2021

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Boishakh’s death, Shravan’s birth, and Mamun’s waiting 11 years

Mamun Mia named the child Boishakh. Kawsar Hossain Boishakh. He was only seven years old. On that day, he was burnt to death in his father’s shop on the day of a terrible fire in Nimtali, Old Dhaka. 124 people died in this incident. Among them was Mamun’s son, Adar’s child.

Mamun told Prothom Alo about what happened last Tuesday. Said he lowered the shutters of the shop to escape the heat. But after a while he realized that the fire had spread. At one stage, he managed to get out with his burnt body, but he never got his son back.

It has been 11 years since the Nimtali fire. Mamun now trades in fruits. Not only did she lose her child in the fire, but she was also in debt. There are burn marks on the right side of his body including his head, ears and hands. Showing that sign, he said, the death of people in the fire in old Dhaka has not stopped, nor has justice been done.

The fire in Nimtali happened on June 3, 2010. Today marks the 11th anniversary of this incident. Then two more big accidents happened in old Dhaka. It killed 6 more people. But the chemical business did not move from old Dhaka. There has been no major progress even in the removal project. Meanwhile, a general diary was kept at Bangshal police station on the Nimtali incident. The police did not investigate.
The current Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Bangshal Police Station Abul Khair told Prothom Alo, “I don’t know if there was any case or GD in that incident. I joined this police station on April 26.

The fire in Nimtali started from the ground floor of the five-storey building of 43 Nawab Katara. At that moment, it spread to the surrounding buildings. The five-storey building has now been extended to one storey. Visiting last Tuesday morning, it was seen that the building no longer has a chemical warehouse. The owners live in that building. However, no one agreed to speak.

Shafiqul Islam runs a grocery store called Rahim Store on the ground floor of Nawab Katara’s Agunlaga building. His brother ran the shop. However, he died in a fire 11 years ago. Shafiqul said so many people died, but no justice was done.

A memorial has been erected in front of the Agunlaga building in which 124 people were killed in Nimtali. On the right side of it is a camp of Nawab Katara Social Welfare Organization and Panchayat. Anwar Hossain, a local resident, was sitting there talking. He was praying in a nearby mosque at the time of the incident. He said he came out of the mosque and saw at least 12 buildings burning. The screams, hustle and bustle of the people around.

Anwar Hossain said, ‘We have never seen such a fire. I don’t even want to see it anymore. ‘

After the Nimtali fire incident, the fire service has stopped giving permission for clearance of chemical warehouse in old Dhaka. But company officials say there are still chemical warehouses in old Dhaka. The goods of these warehouses are brought and taken in secret.

Abdul Halim, assistant director (operations) of the fire service, told Prothom Alo that goods were loaded and unloaded at these warehouses around midnight.

There is no comprehensive and precise account or information about the number of chemical warehouses in old Dhaka. However, a government survey conducted under the direction of the Cabinet Department says there are 1,924 wholesale and retail establishments in the chemical business. According to a study published by Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) last September, there are about 15,000 warehouses of combustible chemicals in Old Dhaka.

Chemical traders say that there are innumerable warehouses of chemicals scattered in Chawkbazar, Lalbagh, Armanitola, Imamganj, Islambagh, Mitford, Hazaribagh and Kotwali of old Dhaka. They have agreed to move the warehouse. However, it is the government’s shortcoming in implementing the plan.

Enayet Hossain, an adviser to the Bangladesh Chemical and Perfumery Association, told Prothom Alo that the trade in chemicals in old Dhaka has increased at least 20 times in the last 10 years. Traders want to go to the chemical village very fast. The government has been asked to take initiative to fill, allocate and relocate the soil of the village with money from the traders if necessary.

According to the Department of Explosives, there are at least 36 types of chemicals traded in old Dhaka, which are combustible. If they catch fire, terrible fires can happen. Abul Kalam Azad, chief explosives inspector at the Directorate of Explosives, told Prothom Alo that chemical trade was going on in warehouses in residential and commercial buildings like a frog’s umbrella in old Dhaka. Traders are trading there. Not following any safety rules.

Abul Kalam Azad further said that whenever there is a fire in old Dhaka, everyone blames the Directorate of Explosives. But there are 12 more government institutions that give clearance for chemical business. Initiatives are being taken by the government to find out what can be done with the help of 12 organizations to monitor these.

Fruit seller Mamun Mia’s wife went crazy after losing her child Boishakh in the Nimtali fire. Mamun has taken another child to alleviate the pain of losing his wife’s son even in the midst of lack of family. Named Shravan, he is now seven years old.

Mamun Mia showed a picture of a child hanging inside his fruit shop in Nimtali and said in the first light, Shravan looks exactly like Boishakh. Everyone in the mahalla calls him Baishakh. Mamun added, ‘If Boishakh had survived, he would have been 18 years younger now. Let no one’s chest be empty like ours. ‘