Two more Abhijan launch drivers sent to jail over fire

The decision was made by Special Judge Joynab Begum of the Marine Court after a hearing at the Marine Court in Dhaka’s Motijheel on Sunday.

The two sent to jail are Masum Billah and Abul Kalam, both drivers of the launch.

Both of them had surrendered to the court on Sunday and petitioned for bail, but the judge sent them to jail. Two other suspects who had surrendered and petitioned for bail had also been sent to bail by the same judge.

During Sunday’s hearing, defence lawyer Jahangir Hossain said that the two had tried their best to prevent the disaster, but had failed.

“This was not due to their negligence, so we are asking for their bail,” he said. “They are the only earning members of their families. They could have died as well.”

The state opposed the bail, saying that the engine driver is responsible for the engine room, that the two were responsible for monitoring the situation and could have avoided the disaster if proper action had been taken.

A court issued arrest warrants against eight suspects, including launch owner Hamjalal Sheikh, on Dec 26 after the launch fire.

Early on Dec 24, the Abhijan-10 launch went up in flames near Jhalakathi’s Gabkhan, leading to the deaths of at least 42 people. More than 50 others are being treated in a number of hospitals. It is the deadliest inland vessel fire in Bangladesh’s history.

The day after the inferno, rescuers pulled bodies from the charred vessel and the river before burying 24 unidentified bodies in a mass grave.

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