"My son used to bear his and his brother’s educational expenses by driving auto-rickshaw while he was a student. For lack of money, he did not complete his graduation and joined the Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence after completing his Higher Secondary exams. As Sohel’s father was paralysed, we had to depend on the income of Sohel. How can I now bear the educational expenses of my three sons,” said Halima with tears in her eyes.
She is the mother of Sohel Rana (25), who succumbed to his injuries sustained in the Banani fire and died while undergoing treatment at the Singapore General Hospital on Monday.
Halima said: “My son used to send his whole salary to me. When I told him he should save some money for his future, he said he does not need money. He always asked me to take care of his younger brothers. He did not want to get married even after getting the job. He said he could not complete his studies due to financial crisis. He did not want his brothers to face the same fate.”
Sohel"s brother Rubel said: “My father has been paralysed for about 15 years. We have not told him about Sohel"s death, as he would not be able to tolerate the news. My brother was the only earning member of our family. After losing him, we are in a deep crisis. He always thought for the family. Despite wanting to, he could not continue his studies for lack of money.”
Another brother of Sohel, Uzzal Mia, said the family is proud of Sohel as he sacrificed his life for the people. Uzzal sought the help of the Prime Minister as the family had lost its bread earner.
Villagers, relatives and other people thronged Sohel"s native village, Keruala. in Itna upazila of Kishoreganj district, after his body was taken to his house yesterday.
His burial was completed in the afternoon.
The namaj-e-janaza of Sohel was held at the Fire Service and Civil Defence headquarters here at 11am. His body arrived at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport around 10:45pm on Monday.
After attending the first namaz-e-janaza of Sohel, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal assured a job for a family member of the firefighter. “Sohel was the lone bread earner of his family. We will remember his contribution and give a job to any capable member of his family,” the minister said.
According to eyewitnesses, on March 28, Sohel was trying to rescue people trapped in the FR Tower at Banani. At one stage, his security hooks got stuck in the rescue ladder. He slid from the ladder and hung dangerously when one of his legs broke.
“While he was trying to extinguish the fire standing atop the ladder, he also tried to make space for people looking to escape the inferno. As the number of escapees swelled, he moved away from the ladder and was hanging on to a single rope. But the automated ladder smashed his leg,” said a witness, Samsur Rahman.
Talking to The Independent, Md Bajlur Rahman, senior station master of Kurmitola Fire Service and Civil Defence where Sohel worked, said he was a brave firefighter. Sohel always fought to save people at risk, the official said. “Sohel saved many lives during the Banani fire. He is a real hero of the country. He sacrificed his life in the line of duty,” said Rahman, still trying to cope with the sense of grief that has gripped Sohel"s workplace.
The braveheart rescued at least 40 people. The critically-injured Sohel was first taken to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Dhaka. On April 5, he was flown to Singapore by an air ambulance for better treatment.