Saturday, 12 October 2013

Rana Plaza building collapse: Family members of those missing still waiting for identification

Travel a year back. And you see in Rajbari a happy family having happy times with Taslima on the Eid day. Being the sole bread earner of the family, the garment worker brought home many gifts and with them big smiles.

This year, the Eid-ul-Azha is around but the family has no happy faces because there is no Taslima. The 20-year-old was among the 1,132 people, mostly garment workers, killed in the April 24 Rana Plaza collapse in Savar. The family has yet to get her body.

“My youngest daughter was the only wage earner of our family. Last year, she bought dresses for all of us. But today I have no one to give me a lungi or a shirt,” her father Ayub Sheikh told The Daily Star.

But it is not Taslima’s body alone that could not be identified and was therefore buried in Jurain graveyard as unidentified bodies. About 329 more bodies still remain unidentified. The government is working to identify the victims through DNA tests, and their families would be compensated only after that.

For Mamataz Begum in the meantime, the Rana Plaza collapse has been a collapse in every sense. It has taken away her son and with him the source of her family income. It has taken away, too, the joy she shared with him on Eid days. “I wish I could get at least my son’s body so I could bury him.”

Asked what this year’s Eid meant to her, she said: “What can a festival mean to a mother who has lost her son?”

She said she did not get any help from the government.

Worse, she cannot open the little tea shop she and her husband ran near the collapsed nine-storey building. The place where the shop had been remains restricted on security grounds.

Mamataz is one of the 15 mothers the correspondents spoke to while visiting Majidpur area, close to Rana Plaza.

At least seven of them are yet to find the bodies of their children or get any government help. Whenever they see a journalist they show the pictures of their sons or daughters with documents to prove their claims.

Among those who shared their heart-breaking stories with The Daily Star was Rasheda, 55. The body of her daughter, Rina Akhter, was pulled out from under the rubble by rescuers two days after the collapse. A few days later, Rasheda’s husband Yunus Akhter, who joined the rescue operation with many other civilians, died of a heart attack, possibly because of the trauma he had gone through.

Last year, Eid meant joy to her because her daughter arranged the celebration with her little savings. But this year, all she feels is desolation.

She is worried too. Worried, because another of her daughter, who used to work at a Rana Plaza garment factory, had her waist badly injured in the collapse.

Rasheda is struggling to manage the treatment cost. And she does not know where the money will come from in the days ahead.

Saturday 12 October 2013


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