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Fatal fire unearths child labour at Narayanganj factory

  • Published at 06:10 pm July 10th, 2021
A woman shows a picture of his son who is missing after the deadly fire at the factory of Hashem Foods Ltd in Narayanganj’s Rupganj upazila Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Sajeeb Group CEO denies hiring children

Locals, workers and relatives of missing workers said the Narayanganj factory that recently caught fire mostly employed children and women belonging to poor families, many of whom were brought to the city from different villages.

Dhaka Tribune correspondents at the spot and at Dhaka Medical College Hospital reported that the families of the missing children were still anxiously searching for their loved ones at the factory of Hashem Foods Ltd, a concern of Sajeeb Group, in Narayanganj’s Rupganj on Saturday. The massive fire had broken out on Thursday.

As many as 45 workers are still missing, of whom 33 are children and women of different ages, according to the police.

One child worker whose shift had ended before the fire on Thursday was seen searching for her co-worker at the site. She said most of the workers employed at the factory were children aged 10-15 and women.

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Another child worker was 12-year-old Shantamoni, who joined the factory just three days ago to help the family amid the Covid-19 situation. She used to work at the juice-processing unit of the factory.

“I told her not to work here but she insisted. Her madrasa was closed due to the lockdown and many of her friends work here. That’s why she convinced me to let her work here,” said her mother while clamouring and urging everyone to find her daughter.

Meanwhile, denying the hiring of children, Sajeeb Group Chief Executive Officer Shahan Shah Azad told Dhaka Tribune: “We did not make any child work [at the factory]. But if someone worked there by concealing their age, there is nothing we can do.”

On Thursday, at least 49 workers died when a massive fire engulfed the Hashem Foods factory building.

Three others died after jumping off the six-storey food-processing factory, taking the death toll to 52.

Most of the victims of the fatal fire were women and children.