Delwar’s bail betrays pro-rich bias of state, political elite

THE release on a bail of Delwar Hossain, who had been behind bars since February 9, accused of culpable homicide in connection with the November 24, 2012 fire at Tazreen Fashions Limited, one of the companies he owns, that left at least 112 apparel workers killed, could be interpreted as yet another pointer to the essential pro-rich bias of the state and the political elite, both governing and non-governing. The two-month bail, granted by the High Court on July 24 in response to the submission that Delwar needed to be outside prison to pay wages to about 3,000 workers of the Tuba Group, who have not been paid since April and some of whom have been on a fast unto death in demand for the arrears and festival allowance, could also set a precedent for the unethical section of entrepreneurs to first inflict misery on their workers and then use it as protection from the law for transgressions previously committed.
There are more reasons than one to believe that the travesty of justice played out in Delwar’s case may have been possible because of the Awami League-led government’s connivance. According to a report published in New Age on Wednesday, the additional attorney general had said on Sunday that the office of the attorney general would appeal against the bail although there was no instruction from the government. However, on Tuesday, the day Delwar was released, he said that the office had applied for a certified copy of the order and would ‘decide whether an appeal … would be filed or not’ after ‘examining the order’. Such a change of heart could well have been at the behest of the government, especially in view of its not-so-subtle an attempt to save Delwar’s skin by portraying the Tazreen fire as ‘an act of sabotage’ and ‘planned arson’ in its immediate aftermath. It is instructive as well that, at no stage of the agitation by the Tuba Group, has the ruling party’s labour wing expressed its solidarity with the protesters. The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s labour wing has not expressed its solidarity with the Tuba workers either.
Despicably still, on Wednesday, just a day after Delwar was released on bail, the police cracked down on the protesters, as did hired musclemen allegedly loyal to the ruling party. Surely, the government and the ruling party have a lot of explaining to do, so does the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association. Meanwhile, it is imperative for the conscious section of society not to take its eyes of the greater picture. Just as the Tuba workers are entitled to be paid their arrears and festival allowance, the victims and survivors of the Tazreen fire and their relatives deserve justice — one should in no way obviate the other.

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