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Parents of Bangladeshi girl return for justice

Eight-year-old Rawshan Jian was killed by a cement bag that fell from a construction site in Malé.



The parents of an eight-year-old Bangladeshi girl who was killed by a falling cement bag vowed on Tuesday to remain in the Maldives until the investigation into her death is concluded and justice is served. 

Fighting back tears at a press conference, Dr Farzana Hussain told reporters that she and her husband – both of whom were working at the Faafu Nilandhoo island’s health centre – recently returned to the Maldives hoping for justice for their daughter Rawshan Jian.

“Until my daughter’s case is resolved, we are planning to stay here,” she said.

Inspections of all construction sites in the capital and its suburbs along with a review of safety regulations were launched after horrific video footage of the tragic accident in December sparked public outrage.

At the press conference, the girl’s parents called for accountability and improvements in safety measures. A legal team assisting the family said they were looking for “more ways to work in this case.”

The case has “shed light on the malpractices of the construction industry,” Dr Farzana said, calling the incident “a clear case of negligence.”

The family would decide on pursuing litigation after the police investigation is concluded, lawyers said.

Dr Farzana said the family had been in Malé for their annual leave, “however it seemed fate took a different turn on us.”

The bag fell from the fifth floor of Maafannu Nalahiya Manzil, a 10-storey building under construction by the W Construction company. The torn sack fell through a hole in the safety net while workers were lifting cement bags to the sixth floor.

“My daughter was taken to [the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital] immediately. She went through two major surgeries and was later transferred to the ICU,” the grieving mother read from a statement, breaking into tears.

“Despite doctor’s efforts and within what felt like moments, we had lost our beloved daughter.”

Rawshan was their “pride and joy” and her death caused “unbearable pain,” Dr Farzana continued, recalling her daughter’s love of the environment and her dream of becoming a pilot.

“Rawshan Jian was not the girl you saw on that horrifying video. She was joyful, ambitious and full of love,” she said.

She expressed gratitude for “the warmth and care we received from the people of Maldives” and thanked in particular President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Vice President Faisal Naseem, former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Malé Mayor Shifa Mohamed, police officers and IGMH staff for their “care and kindness.”

The accident also sparked calls for the arrest of W Construction’s owners. Former attorney general Husnu Suood suggested charges must be pressed over criminal negligence as former vice president Mohamed Jameel said “those responsible should be brought to justice”.

But W Construction denied any wrongdoing and dismissed the city council’s allegations of failing to obtain permits.

The company has since been allowed to resume work on its construction projects.

In the wake of the public outcry, the authorities suspended issuing permits but construction industry magnates condemned calls to halt projects. The entire industry must no be held accountable because of the actions of one contractor, they said.