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FR Tower fire: Owners of land, illegal floors remanded after arrest

  • Published at 04:15 pm March 31st, 2019
File photo: Detective Branch (DB) of police present SMHI Faruque and Tasvir Ul Islam - arrested in a case filed over the FR Tower fire - before media in front of the DB office in Dhaka on Sunday, March 31, 2019 Courtesy

Thursday’s fire at the high-rise building has left 26 people dead

A Dhaka court on Sunday granted police seven days to interrogate SMHI Faruque and Tasvir Ul Islam in a case filed over Thursday’s deadly fire at FR Tower in Dhaka’s Banani that killed 26 people.

Faruque, owner of the land on which FR Tower is situated, was arrested from Bashundhara Residential Area around 1:45am on Sunday.

BNP leader Tasvir — one of the owners of the illegally built top floors of the high-rise — was arrested from his Baridhara home around 10:45pm on Saturday.

Metropolitan Magistrate Sabbir Yasir Ahsan Chowdhury on Sunday placed them in police custody for questioning, after rejecting their bail pleas.

Jalal Uddin, case investigation officer of the Detective Branch (DB) of police, had produced the men before the court with a 10-day remand plea for each. But the court only granted seven days.

Meanwhile, the case filed at Banani police station over the FR Tower fire was transferred to DB for further investigation.

Faruque and Tasvir were arrested after Banani police Sub-Inspector Milton Datta filed the case on Saturday, accusing the two along with Rupayan Group Chairman Liaquat Ali Khan.

At a press conference on Sunday, DB’s Additional Commissioner Abdul Baten said they were yet to arrest Liaquat as he was in hiding. “But we are working to arrest him.”

Also Read- FR Tower fire: Landowner Faruque held

Asked why police did not accuse anyone from Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) over possible negligence in approving and inspecting the FR Tower, he said Rajuk was responsible for holding any of its officials accountable in such cases.

“If anyone is involved in anything illegal, Rajuk will take departmental action against them,” Baten said.

“Moreover, if our investigation finds any person directly involved in any criminal offence, they will also be brought to book,” he added.

Negligence led to deadly fire and deaths

DB official Abdul Baten said the reasons behind the fire at FR Tower and subsequent deaths were faulty construction, unapproved extension of the building, lack of emergency exits, insufficient smoke detectors, and absence of firefighting materials.

“Faruque, Tasvir and Liaquat have caused the destruction of property and deaths of many through negligence and indifference,” he added.

He said: “They considered FR Tower as a money making factory. This huge loss occurred as they neglected security, humanity and service.”

According to police, Faruque owns 45% of the infrastructure, while Tasvir is the owner of the illegally constructed part. Tasvir is also the president of the building management and security committees.

Also Read- Owner of illegal portion of FR Tower held

Liaquat had constructed the tower violating the building code and sold it ignoring security measures for illegal benefit, said Additional Commissioner Baten.

He said: “We will investigate if the rules and regulation were followed in FR Tower’s case.”

The DB official also said that their investigation in the case was underway. “We will consider all the factors in determining the negligence of the people responsible. Then we will submit the charge sheet.”

Officials at several government agencies confirmed that nearly every possible rule of building safety and fire safety was violated during the construction of FR Tower, situated in one of the capital’s posh areas.

Rajuk had approved the building’s design with 18 floors, but FR Tower has 23. It also had insufficient firefighting equipment, and there were no clear posted instructions on how to use emergency exit points.