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Starring Reshma!

Written By: Nazmul
18/05/2013 21:56
Contemporary Debate


Image: Reshma in press conference 

The following are the two typical plots of a Bengali movie. In the fist, a villain kidnaps the heroine and the hero dramatically appears to rescue her. The hero then fights with the villain, who has elicited the help of his supporters, and defeats them all singlehandedly. Both the hero and heroine live happily ever after. The second plot begins with a sudden hit in head of the heroin which causes her to lose consciousness and her memory. Many years pass, and after receiving another blow to the head, she recovers all her lost memories. In these films, the heroine faces some sort of opposition but is always rescued. Sometimes this is due to a saint who has prayed for her. In the end, our heroine has her needs for food and water fulfilled. The cinema director Ibn Mizan used to make these sorts of films, but now these films have generally lost their audiences. But Ibn Mizan and his likes haven’t disappeared from Savar.

The story about Reshma’s rescue after 17 days has created much confusion about the truthfulness of the incident. The army thus called for a press conference, and came, after many changes in schedule, with Reshma—who was dressed in clothes gifted to her by the prime minister. The reporters gave in their questions earlier, and she was given the answers to repeat. One of the reporters asked Reshma about the situation when the building collapsed. She replied that she was hit in the head, and feels unconscious. When she awoke, she could not recall anything. But she was not stuck; she saw screaming people around her, the majority of whom passed away.

Reshma was already in international headlines—the girl who was rescued after 17 days of the collapse of the building in Savar. The rescue team of the army initially stated that they found Reshma in the prayer room of the basement of the building. They said there was plenty of food and water. But the problem in this narrative arises when we consider the answers to the five questions of Munni Shaha off ATN TV. First, how is it that Reshma is still alive after so long? Second, how could a person look like so fresh after all of this? Third, how could have she survived those 17 days without food. Even if there was dry food, where would it have come from? Finally, how could her dress be so clean after passing such a long time in a dark cave? These were the five questions which caught the attention of the masses.

The army initial statement that they rescued Reshma from the prayer room in basement changed after four hours, when they altered their response after the report of the GOC confirmed she was rescued from the second floor. According to GOC’s Mr. Sorwerdy, Reshma survived by keeping food in her canteen.

While she was in the ICU, Reshma mentioned to Bangla News, that she survived 17 days on water. She said she was immediately struck when the building collapsed, and then moved into the prayer room where the rescuers sent her bottles of water. Apparently she portioned two bottles of water to survive.  She then mentioned that she survived this way for the first 15 days, after which she had no water and was left breathing through a pipe.

Major Moajjem mentioned to the reporters that the army could not bring any food to Reshma, though apparently she had some biscuits in her purse, which she ate bit by bit. Any army member mentioned to a reporter that she had some dry foods, and Reshma then said that there was plenty of food but she could not eat. And finally, yesterday, in a press conference, she mentioned again that she had only two bottles of water and four pieces of biscuits. In her words, “I just drink some water and had nothing else with me for 17 days”.

How was Reshma found? The first account we heard was that Monower, a 15 year old volunteer noticed a pipe shaking and heard a voice saying “brother save me”. Then, Mr. GOC changed that statement and stated that it was not Monower, but warrant officer Abdurrajjak and that the first word from Reshma was “Sir, save me”.

With regards to her new clothes, Major Moajjem stated that there was no dust to begin with. He changed this statement later, saying that shed exchanged her clothes for one of the dead bodies’. Changed that statement and make a new statement that she changed her dress with other dead bodies. Apparently they realised how unacceptable this statement was and changed it so that it became that Reshma found clothes in storage and changed.

In the latest version of this story, Reshma mentioned that there was no place to walk. She was laid down underneath a wall with a gap of only 3-4 feet. This means that she was stuck and that she could not have possibly moved to any prayer room. Even the account of preserving water does not fit here. And how could she have found clothes? With a flashlight? And why, at such a time, would she be thinking of her clothing? Colonel Arshad then explained that she went into a clothes store, from whence she found clothes, and changed into them in a state of lying down. How she could get to the store, if she had to change lying down is unbelievable.

Presumably if someone survived on water and four biscuits for 17 days, this person would be weak. This was not the case with Reshma. It would be natural for someone stuck in a dark cave for 17 days to have trouble seeing, but Reshma did not. Miraculously, furthermore, even after 17 days, her nails were well kept and her teeth were still white. She did not resemble anyone else who was without food, light, or care for 17 days. Reporters then asked why she did not call for help if she so mobile. There was no response.

After her rescue, Major General Mr. Sorwerdy stated in his brief that “at the time of collapse there were three other garment workers whose bodies were moved before”. The question then arises: if they could move three bodies from the same place, why did they leave her for 17 days? Was she not there when it collapsed?

Reshma mentioned that on the 2nd of April she got a job in the factory for 4700 Taka/month, which is 22 days prior to the tragedy. But how then, did she not know the name of her factory? Reshma said it was all “by the grace of Allah.”

At the time of the collapse, no media was present.  One rescuer, Mr. Rajjak, stated that they went to the media to report the situation. At the time, he said he felt that someone was shaking the pipe, and quickly went there to remove the dust with his bare hands when he found what he called “an unbelievable sight”. He then moved a concrete slab, and saw Reshma through a gap of two inches in width. When she saw him she cried out “sir, save me.’’ She then mentioned to Mr. Rajjak and the other rescuer that there was no food, but plenty of water in the prayer room.

We say that this entire story was concocted to shift media attention from the brutal attack on and murder of many members of Hafazot-e-isalm in Shapla square.

The government is only covering up its lie with more lies. The writer, producer, director, and actors of this dramatic play will soon be revealed. Who knows how much Reshma, Major Mr. Moajjem, Major Mr. Delwer and the warrant officer Mr. Rajjak were paid to report these lies!

Mr. Sorwerdy ought to have saved Reshma himself and prove his heroism—at least this way there would only be one account of the story. The many versions now are only confusing the people. But this falsity is not worth further discussion—let us move forward.

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Reshma Savar Tragedy Bangladesh Building collapse RMG 


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