In the first hearing after the police filed a charge sheet in the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. fire, a warrant for the arrest of the owner and managing director of the company, Delwar Hossain, has been issued.
This story first appeared in the January 2, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The warrant was issued Tuesday. Arrest orders for five others have been issued, including Hossain’s wife and the chairman of the company, Mahmuda Akter, all of whom are said to be on the run at this time.
Three other Tazreen employees, including the factory manager and the production manager, who have been charged, have also absconded.
The fire at the factory on Nov. 24, 2012, resulted in the death of more than 112 workers. The charges sheet for the deaths accusing 13 people from Tazreen was issued on Dec. 26.
Only one of the 13 accused has been arrested.
Workers who have been agitating for the arrest of Hossain said employers and factory owners have largely been impervious to the law since many of them have close links with politicians and that this was a sign of the changing times for the industry.
One reason police and the judicial system are recognizing the responsibility of the factory owners is the international attention the tragedy has received and the outrage over the fact that fire exits had been locked by managers of the factory even after smoke was spotted from within. Many of the workers attempting to escape the flames could not leave the factory and the ground floor area was blocked by supplies and bags stored near the staircase. Workers jumped from the first- and second-floor windows trying to flee, and more than 200 were injured in the process, with some losing limbs and in near fatal falls.
The 13 accused were charged under Section 403 of culpable homicide under the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Workers have continued to call for justice over the last 13 months, staging protests and negotiating with government authorities through trade union leaders.
“It is a relief to see that workers are being treated as human after all,” said Mohammed Altaf, a worker in the Ashulia area, who told WWD that many garment workers had begun to fear entering their workplaces after Tazreen and several other fires that have broken out in garment factories over the last year. In addition, the collapse of Rana Plaza on April 24 left more than 1,131 dead and hundreds injured.
Tazreen manufactured garments for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., C&A and other international companies and workers have been calling for international retailers to compensate workers who have been affected by the incidents. Last week a $40 million fund was set up by international retailers including Primark, El Corte Inglés, Loblaw and Le Bon Marché, although there are calls for more international retailers to contribute to the fund.