Court orders MV Abhijan master, deputy to jail over charges of negligence

Special Metropolitan Magistrate Joynab Begum of Dhaka’s Marine Court turned down their bail appeals and ordered them to jail.

The shipping department filed a case against eight people, including the owner, masters and crew members of MV Abhijan-10, in the marine court in Dhaka on Sunday over the deadly blaze that swept through the launch in Jhalakathi, leading to the death of over three dozen people.

The court issued arrest warrants for eight of them, including the owner of the launch, Hamjalal Sheikh, in connection with the charges of negligence pressed by the shipping department. 

Hamjalal, who also owns two other vessels, was arrested in Keraniganj on Monday. He was hiding in a relative’s house after the filing of the cases.

Four other cases have been filed over the incident. Jahangir Hossain of the Jhalakathi Ponabalia Union Village Police filed a case over ‘unnatural deaths’ with Jhalakathi Sadar Police Station.

Then Nazmul Islam Nasir, the union council chairman from Baliatali in Barguna’s Sadar Upazila, filed a case with the Barguna Chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court on Sunday, accusing 25 suspects. Launch owner Hamjalal was among those named in the case.

Monir Hossain, a relative of the victims, filed a case against 20 people, including the ower of MV Abhijan-10, with Jhalakathi Sadar Police Station over the deadly incident on Tuesday. 

He has sought justice for pushing his relatives and other passengers of the vessel to their deaths through negligence.

The law enforcers have already uncovered various irregularities related to the ill-fated launch. 

The Fire Service officials said the launch did not have sufficient fire extinguishers. The engine of the vessel was changed a month ago without the authorisation of the Department of Shipping. Three masters and drivers out of four had no legal permission to operate the vessel.

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There was diesel in a drum and cylinder stove for cooking outside the engine room, in violation of the rules.

Many passengers remain missing after the blaze engulfed the three-storey launch on Friday, killing at least 42 people and injuring 80 others. Passengers jumped into the river in a desperate bid to save their lives after the blaze.

Most of the passengers were asleep when the fire started. Many of those on the second floor of the launch did not even get a chance to leave their cabins. Fire Service personnel doused the flames on the vessel after three hours of work.

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