Four days after the Savar tragedy, members of elite force Rab arrested Sohel Rana, the owner of the collapsed Rana Plaza in Savar, from Benapole in Jessore on Sunday, foiling his bid to flee to India.From Jessore, Rana was flown in Tejgaon Airport (Old) in Dhaka around 5pm by a Rab helicopter.
He was later taken to the Rab headquarters in Uttara around 5.30pm and produced before the media with valuables and two bottles of Phensidyl recovered from his possession.
Briefing reporters about Rana’s arrest, Director General of the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) Moklesur Rahman said a Rab team from Dhaka flown to Beanpole by a helicopter on information that Rana might flee to India through Benapole border, and tracked him down.
The Rab boss said they arrested Rana from the house of Shah Alam Mithu at Benapole along with those who gave him shelter.
Mokhles said the Rana Plaza owner hid at different places, including three districts outside the capital, at different times following the building collapse and changed his locations frequently.
He said cases have been filed against Rana with Savar Police Station on various charges, including violation of the building code.
The Rab DG said all legal actions will be taken against Rana. A case under the Narcotics Control Act will also be filed as he was arrested with Phensidyl.
Holding the building owner responsible for the tragedy, Mokhles said Rana forced the workers of five garment factories housed in Rana Plaza to work in the building even after it was declared abandoned.
“There were five garment factories in Rana Plaza. The building had been declared abandoned before the tragedy occurred. But building owner Sohel Rana compelled the workers to work in the building which led to the tragic incident. So, Sohel Rana is mainly responsible for the terrible incident,” the Rab boss told the journalists.
He said they will hand over Rana to Dhaka district police.
Meanwhile, a team of police and Rab had conducted a futile drive in Sonadanga residential area of Khulna city around 11am.
SM Kamruzzaman, OC of Sonadanga Police Station, said they, being informed secretly that Rana was staying in a house of the area, launched the drive but did not find him.
Earlier, law enforcers detained four relatives of Rana, including his wife Mitu, to gather information about him.
State Minister for LGRD and Cooperatives Jahangir Kabir Nanak first broke the news of Rana’s arrest at the central control room set up at Savar around 3:15pm.
He said it was the demand of all, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also directed the agencies concerned to arrest him. “He tried to flee the country through Benapole border.”
The death toll from the horrific building crash hit 371 with the recovery of seven more bodies from the debris on Sunday as the search for the survivors goes on.
Different organisations and political parties, including opposition BNP and Bam Morcha, have been pushing for the arrest Sohel Rana, a local Jubo League leader, and the owners of five factories housed in the crashed complex.
Bam Morcha also threatened to enforce a hartal if Rana was not arrested within 24 hours that expire this evening. UNB