Despite the rescuers’ zeal and tireless efforts and prayers of millions of people, Shahina Akter could not be rescued from the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Savar. The lifeless body of the garment worker, who was a widow from Pakhimara Village of Khepupara upazila under Patuakhali district, was finally retrieved from a burnt tunnel at 4:15 pm on Monday afternoon. Most of the rescuers, even the media persons and the people who gathered there could not control their tears as her body was brought out.
Led by the Army, the rescue team made a 20-hour marathon search operation to find Shahina. But their efforts went in vain as a fire suddenly broke out in the rescue tunnel of the collapsed high-rise building, which was illegally built on the land grabbed from some Hindu people.
According to Shaninul, a volunteer who was in the rescue team, Shahina was all right and was provided with food, water and oxygen after the rescuers traced her. But after the fire broke out, all communications with Shahina were cut off. Sources said she was about to be rescued when an anonymous civil engineer claimed that he could cut the rod that Shahina was pinned to. Although other rescuers had different opinions, the
move made by the engineer caused fire.
Shahina had wanted to have ‘khichuri’ after getting rescued, said Shaninul. Accordingly a dish of ‘khichuri’ was prepared for her. But the rescuers were stunned and stood dazed by the sudden turn of event.
When her body was brought to Savar Adhar Candra Model High School, where most of the bodies were kept, Abdul Motaleb, father of the victim, was crying inconsolably. Even other family members of the missing victims and the volunteers who rushed there could not control their tears.
When Shahina was divorced by her husband Ahsanullah around two years back, she was pregnant. Her son Robin is just one and half years old, said Zahiruddin, the only brother of Shahina.
Due to financial stringency, she had to work in the garments factory, leaving her minor son with her sister Jesmin, who lived in Imandipur area of Savar. After work, she used to go to bring her son from her sister.
Shahina was living at a rented room of one Shahidullah Master at Majidur area, an adjacent area of Imandipur, near Rana Plaza, said Faruk, husband of Shahina’s niece.
Aminur Rahman, deputy director of the LGRD ministry, who is working at the control room of Dhaka District, said, “We have received some messages of Shahina through the rescuers”.
“But there were some differences between the claim of her father and the last message about her and this is why we are verifying the identity of Shahina and the claims of her father,” he added.
“We have already communicated with the TNO of Khepupara Upazila of Putuakhali district and local administration is contacting with local representatives,” Rahaman said, adding that after verifying the necessary information, the body will be handed over.
Recounting the rescue operation, a rescue member said Shahina had requested them to give her son for adoption to a good person, so that her son can be taken care of. Shahina was saved after she was bitten by a poisonous snake when she was only 12. But she could not save herself from the jaws of greedy garment owners and the building owner.
-With The Independent input