Sohel Rana: The man behind the Savar tragedy
All of a sudden the cursed owner of Rana Plaza, a Juboleague leader, Sohel Rana has become the centre of attention for so many and a subject of discussion in the country. He has even been humiliated in international media. With the help and support of the Savar Juboleague MP Murad Jong, Rana was able to carry out one crime after another. MP Murad was Rana’s hope and inspiration.
As a right hand of the MP, Rana forcefully occupied the land owned by Hindus where he erected the ‘Rana Plaza’ . He became reckless and rented his building out to other greedy factory owners making millions. Those who worked in the factories were mostly poverty stricken young girls and women who struggled to survive. On Wednesday they went to work only to return as dead bodies or maimed for life, paying the price for corruption by a handful of immoral factory owners.
This is nothing more than a humanitarian crisis of a civilized world created by uncivilized individuals. The workers were reluctant to enter the cracked building. They were forced to enter. One survivor of the Savar tragedy said “unlike other days, Rana was present in the building on the day it collapsed; he was there only to force our entry in to the building, he wasn’t even alone, he had a huge terrorist group supporting him”.
Who is this Sohel Rana who everyone is giving attention to all of a sudden?
The people of Savar knew Sohel Rana as the person who became the Juboleague Leader (Awami youth Wing) of Savar all of a sudden. He was the son of Khaleq Kolu. He’s father was from the Singay Upozila of Joymondop village in Manikganj District. Only two decades ago his penniless father Khaleq Kolu left his home land in search of a better life in Namapara, Savar. He started a little business of making mustard oil by crushing mustard seeds himself and later selling them to make enough money to feed the family. Rana use to help his father with making the mustard oil. Rana left school in year 8 and grew up to be a very despicable young man by joining the local terrorist group. Overnight Rana accumulated a huge mountain of black money from an unseen power. He became well known as the illegal occupier of people’s lands. Multi storey buildings started to grow one after another in his name. The 9 Story Rana Plaza, 9 Story Rana Tower and a 5 Storey Residence building for himself were among a few of his assets.
He was the Ex Secretary of Chatrolegaue (Awami student wing) in Savar before his current position as the Juboleague convenor for the city of Savar. He is very closly associated with the Savar Awami League MP, Talukdar Tawheed Jong Murad, who has helped him to accumulate all this wealth. If you set foot in Savar bazar, the closeness of Savar MP and Sohel Rana can be seen in huge banners where they are pictured welcoming each other. Hundreds of photos showing evidence of Sohel Rana with Murad Jong in their political campaigns are in the possession of journalists who were bribed by Rana to keep them hidden from the public eye. Rana used his vast wealth to hide his dark past before the collapse of the Savar Rana Plaza.
The land where Rana plaza was illegally built, was originally owned by a hindu man by the name of Naryanchondro. He was later referred to as ‘pagla’ since he became mad as a result of being thrown out of his lands. Even though no formal complaint was made against Rana (as they were threatened with death), hes name was mentioned in three separate incidents of murder in Savar.“
Among the murdered was his own brother in law (sisters husband) whose only crime was that he was a BNP supporter who married his sister in secret. Another was his own party member who was bought in to his basement for a drink but later killed by Rana. The third innocent individual fell victim during a dispute with Rana.
The collapsed building owner of Rana made this claim to a journalist on the day of the collapse “Bengalis make a big deal out of everything” referring to the cracks in the wall of the Building. Those journalists have a copy of his recorded interview.
A couple of rescued survivors of the collapsed building said, on the day of the event when they refused to enter the building, Rana told them that the building was safe and the crack was just a simple plastering issue.
Rana Plaza was rented out to 5 factory owners. Those factory owners utilized Rana to inflict torture on their garments workers, including physical and mental abuse. Even on the day of the accident the factory owners called Rana in to force the garment workers to enter the building. The names of the factories were, Neway Bottoms, Neway Style, Phantom Apparels, Pant tag and YearTang. After the collapse of the Rana Plaza Building, none of the careless factory owners contacted the BGMEA (Bangladesh Garments Manufacturing Exporters Association) an organisation that looks out for the Garments owners. BGMEA is trying to communicate with these owners.
The basement of Rana Plaza was also used for various other purposes. It was used as a storage for drugs and Wine containers imported from India bought through the Indian border in Jessore. It further housed many cubicles with beds inside, where randomly selected garment workers were raped by Rana and his ganag members. Another more heinous use of the basement was torture cell for those who opposed him regardless if they were from his own party or the opposition party.
He was arrested by RAB (Rapid action Battalion force) today, on the 29th of April with a huge possession of alcohol in Benapol, Jessore near the Indian borders as he was fleeing to India. He’s arrest was made based on a simple building construction code act which gives a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment and a fine of tk 50,000 only. And like many others before him he will be released back in to society after his sentence has been served where he will continue the corruption and exploitation of many other normal, innocent people of the country.
Has justice been really served?
While the government puts heavy emphasis on the controversial International war crimes tribunal and enforces tougher sanctions against the war criminals of the independence war 40 years ago, their seems to be a huge lacking in the legal system to trial these criminals of the 21st century whose crimes are so evident and committed in broad daylight. There is a huge negligence from the government’s side to hold these people accountable, and some of the reasons could be as most of the owners have been found to be supporters or party leaders of the Governments ruling party Awamileague.
How can a 5 year sentence be enough for those who have the blood of thousands of innocent peoples in their hands?
Ranas case is not a remote case; there are thousands of people like Sohel Rana, who roam the country freely without any accountability. We came to know about one of them due to the Savar incidence as there was an uprising by the garments workers all over the country for his arrest. There are many like him who became multi-millionaires within the space of a few years due to corrupted politics sheltering and nurturing them. These individuals get selected to overrule a certain area politically due to their criminal identities. The problem needs to be tackled from the source, which is to de-criminalize politics. Punishing only one Sohel Rana would do no justice for the thousands who have died as a result of their vile actions. It is always the poor garment workers who become the victim of criminalized politics, government needs to realize and put an end to this. However, the government is only concerned with their political gains even in the expense of thousands of poor garment workers. They choose to sit still and watch more incidents like the Savar tragedy unfold and yet do nothing about it.
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