There have been no apparent moves by the river police to detect the owner of the cargo vessel that hit a passenger-carrying launch and fled in River Sitalakhya over a month ago.
Investigation into the accident progresses at a sluggish pace as police are hoping that the owner would appear before the court with documents so that police would be able to trace him.
The police said that they had seized the cargo vessel, SKL-3, as evidence and handed it over to the court’s custody.
None, however, showed up with papers of the cargo vessel claiming ownership, said Narayanganj river police sub-inspector Yunus Munshi, also investigation officer of the case.
The police officer said that they had yet to trace the owner of the cargo vessel, although media reported and department of shipping officials confirmed that the vessel was owned by ruling Awami League lawmaker for Bagerhat-2 constituency Sheikh Sharhan Naser Tonmoy.
Yunus said that they had written a letter to Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority and communicated with the Department of Shipping to find about the owner of the cargo vessel.
The investigation office, however, could not mention the date when the letter was sent.
BIWTA director for marine safety and traffic management Rafiqul Islam, who was part of two investigations into the incident, said that they were yet to receive any such letter from the police.
He said that a case was filed with the police, the evidence were handed over to them and it was up to the police to trace the owner.
The launch Sabit AL-Hasan, heading towards Munshiganj from Narayanganj carrying over 50 passengers, capsized as the SKL-3 hit it and ran away.
Thirty-four bodies were recovered in a rescue operation lasting over two days.
The Coast Guard seized the cargo vessel and arrested 14 crews at Munshiganj and handed over the vessel and crew to the river police.
The BIWTA filed a case against an unidentified cargo vessel over the launch capsize although witnesses to the accident had identified the vessel that involved in the hit-and-run.
The owner of the launch, Alal Hossain, blamed the police for running the investigation at a snail’s pace since the cargo vessel is reportedly owned by an influential Awami League lawmaker.
‘When I communicated with police about the progress in the investigation, they gave excuses of Covid lockdown and the closure of the court due to the lockdown,’ Alal said.
The investigating officer, however, refuted the allegation saying that they were investigating the incident properly and treating it like any other case.
River police deputy inspector general Atiqul Islam said that the investigation is on and there is no scope to make any comment before completing it.
‘It is better to let the investigation officer complete his task and things can be seen after the filing of the charge sheet,’ he added.
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