Sunday, February 25, 2024

Who cares about the missing and their kin?

Although the rescue operation at the Rana Plaza tragedy site officially ended on Monday with a firm claim by army officials that no dead body is left there, the relatives of the missing garment workers are still hanging around for the remains of their near and dear ones. “I’m here in search of my missing daughter for 20 days. I still haven’t found her. Now I don’t need any sympathy from anyone,” burst out Rahman Sheikh in front of Rana Plaza, just a few minutes after a special prayer (milad) arranged by the army and the district administration on Tuesday afternoon.
“Even this prayer has given me no peace. They’ve arranged the prayer and now they’re getting away. No one is here to tell us what to do,” he added.
Due to the lack of proper documentation, the district administration is still unable to give any final figure of the still missing workers.
The law enforcers started blowing whistles as soon as the prayer was over, in their bid to disperse Rahman Sheikh and hundred other relatives of the still ‘uncertain’ number of missing who since this morning gathered in front of the collapsed Rana Plaza, now only about half-an-acre land covered with a thin layer of debris.
Rahman rushed to Savar from his Ghunipara village home in Tangail after the news of the collapse broke out. His daughter, Sohima, has been missing since the horrifying incident. He lost the hope of getting Sohima alive anymore, but he was determined to at least find the dead body.
Earlier, when the rescue operation was declared closed on Monday evening, the relatives of the missing were summoned to the Savar Upazila Complex. “The officials enlisted their names, but said nothing definite about when or whom they’ll contact for further information,” said Aman Bepari, the father of missing Maya.
“I also went to the hospital for DNA test. The people there also couldn’t assure us of anything. They took my mobile phone number. They said they’ll contact me when the time comes,” he said.
Aman alleged that he has been treated harshly by the officials over the last 20 days. “It’s the local people who stood beside us. They gave us food from time to time. The government people never came to us with any help. Every time we approached the offices to inquire about the missing, they tried to keep us at bay,” he said.
As Aman was speaking out, a face from the crowd of relatives poked out and said, “I’m a worker of Rana Plaza. I was rescued on the first day, but my sister died. She used to work on the third floor. The girl who worked as a helper is still missing. Many others of my floor are still missing. What will happen to their relatives?”
“Many of these people didn’t have much money with them when they left home in search of the missing workers. Allah knows how they stayed at the school ground (Adhar) over the last 20 days. Now they don’t even know how long they have to wait to get the DNA results of the unidentified dead bodies,” she spoke out in fury.
Aman said he can’t stay at Savar or in Dhaka anymore. “I’ve no money even for the transport to go back to the village, but tell me how can I return… my daughter is still missing.”
Of the 1,127 dead bodies recovered during the rescue operation, 834 have so far been identified and handed over to the relatives. A total of 267 unidentified dead bodies have so far been buried, while 24 are still there in the morgues of two hospitals.

-With The Independent input

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