Who owns the Rana Plaza land?

April 30, 2013

The inquiry committee, set up in the aftermath of the Savar building collapse, is trying to determine the actual ownership of the land where Rana Plaza stood.
Rabindra Nath Sarker, a resident of the area, said the land belonged to him, but was forcibly taken away by Sohel Rana who built Rana Plaza. Local people too stood by Sarker.On Monday, the assistant commissioner (Land) of Savar and tahshilder (local land officer) informed the home ministry’s probe committee through a letter that the owner of the land was Sohel Rana, who was arrested on Sunday by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) before he could flee to India. This was stated by the probe committee chief, Mainuddin Khandaker. Khandaker, also additional secretary in the home ministry, said an experts committee will try and find out who the real owner of the land is. “We will question Sohel Rana, his father Abdul Khaleque, Rabindra Nath Sarker and local people to get to the bottom of the matter,” he added.
Local residents said Sarker bought the land — plot Nos. 15, 16, 17 and 23 — under Chhoto Bolimeher Mouza at the Savar bus stand in 1989 from the Gano Forum leader, Mustafa Mohsin Mantu and his brother and his wife. Sarker erected a boundary wall demarcating his property.
Abdul Khaleque, father of Sohel Rana, too had bought land in the same area. In 2000, Sohel demolished the boundary wall and occupied a part of the land belonging to Sarker.
When Sarker filed a case against Sohel, he was forced to leave the area abandoning his home. After seven months, Sarker was allowed to return on condition that he withdraw the case.
Local residents allege that Sohel had forcibly occupied other plots in the area too. He became a millionaire overnight by wheeling and dealing in land, using muscle power and influence in the name of a political party, allegedly with the blessings of the people’s representative of the area.
On Monday, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police detained Sohel’s father Abdul Khaleque from the city in connection with two cases filed. Sohel was arrested on Sunday from Benapole in Jessore.
The home ministry’s probe committee and RAB say Sohel was responsible for the mass killing.
He had allegedly forced garment factory owners to continue working on Wednesday, ignoring cracks spotted the day before.
Law enforcement agencies have also detained four owners of five garment factories of Rana Plaza.

-With The Independent input

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