Slum dwellers suspect sabotage

Manzur H Maswood | Published: 19:07, Mar 13,2018


Many of the fire victims, who became homeless in a devastating fire in the capital’s Pallabir early Monday, suspected the incident as an act of sabotage by vested quarters.

They said the fire engulfing several hundred shanties within a short span of time was possible only if flammable elements were used.

‘Small fire occurs in the slum routinely only to be put off by water stored in shanties.

But such a disastrous fire is only possible if flammable elements are put in place’, said Mohammad Shahin, a rickshaw puller residing in the slum since 2005, on Tuesday.

The fire razed Shahin’s shanty, which sheltered his six member family, among about 8,000 shanties razed in the fire.

Mohammad Belal, a painter, said they had four shanties for their families of 18 members in the slum of about 10,000 families.

‘Many things (suspicion) peep into the mind... spreading of such a massive fire is not possible unless any quarters torch the slum intentionally,’ he said.

Belal said there has been a dispute among the slum leaders recently.

Last month, a group of slum leaders were replaced ousting another group, he informed.

‘The aggrieved group could do it out of anger, he said.

Asked about the identity, the slum dwellers refused to give their names, but they said there is one leader there, that is, Elias Mollah, the local lawmaker.

‘He picks the leaders who would collect the fund (rent of shanties)’, said a slum dweller.

‘The leadership brings money that motivates them to go for even anarchy in the slum,’ he said.

The Fire Service investigators who started probing the fire said they could not be confirmed yet about how the fire originated and how that spread to the entire slum.

Debashish Bardhan, fire service deputy director who is heading the probe team, told New Age that they just started working on Tuesday and could not determine about the cause of the fire.

Lawmaker Elias Mollah denied any allegation of sabotage.

He told reporters that it was merely an accident.

Elias said he was providing foods to the victims and would continue until they began normal life.

‘I would try to allocate government fund for them,’ he said.

The slum dwellers were seen collecting garbage from the rubble on Tuesday.

‘We wake up to see the fire... We could not save anything,’ said Mujibur Rahman, a construction laborer.

‘We just saved our lives,’ he said.

Elias Mollah made a list of 7,000 victim families.

The slum leaders were updating the list on Tuesday afternoon.

Syed Shah Alam, a slum leader, said the lawmaker assured them to arrange some fund for them.

He (Elias) also provided foods for them on Monday and Tuesday, he said.


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