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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Thursday, November 29, 2012
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No more such deaths, please

Jurain air thick with groans of pain

White clouds drifted across the sky. The sun, on a winter morning, kissed the barren ground below, where everyone stood in the warmth of its rays.

At the edge of the otherwise deserted Jurain graveyard gathered a small crowd of people. Silent and shell-shocked, they were all staring at the graves of the unclaimed bodies of 53 garment workers of Tazreen Fashions, who were burnt to death in the worst garment tragedy in the history of the country.

The graves of the workers were lined up in three rows. The soil on the graves was still wet, and so were the eyes of the spectators.

"How cheap our lives are," murmured Amena Khatun, around 40 years of age. She had come from Sutrapur Bazar to have a glimpse of the place where the workers had been laid to eternal rest.

Like her, some locals and a few others came to offer their prayers for the departed souls of the dead. Some others, just as sombre, came to see the graves. They were not related to the deceased. Yet they came.

Class-V student Shafiq Hasan of Faridabad High School was one of the silent observers there. He came to the graveyard with two of his classmates after taking the day's primary terminal examination.

"I felt miserable when on television I saw the news of so many deaths and the burial here. That's why I came," he said.

A little distance way, a mother, her two children and a relative were talking about the tragedy. "Whenever such an incident occurs,” said the mother, “the government offers compensations without being strict about the safety standards of garment factories.” She had come to pray for her dead husband.

"What is the use of the compensation, be it Tk 20,000 or 1 lakh? When people die, we cannot bring them back," she added.

Mohammad Ali, who is in charge of security at the graveyard, said tags with serial numbers of the bodies would be put up next to each grave so that the bereaved families could identify their dead once DNA tests were done.

Around 2:00pm yesterday, some gravediggers were seen giving the final touches to the graves. "We did not get enough time [on Tuesday] because of huge crowds. We'll tend the graves regularly," said a gravedigger.

The only question the onlookers seemed to have in their minds before leaving the graveyard was: will these bodies remain unclaimed forever?

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