Many Questions Remain Unanswered at Press Conference with Reshma

Reshma at a press conference after being 'saved' 17 days after the collapse of Rana Plaza.

A press conference was called with Savar garments factory worker Reshma. It was assumed that the press conference would answer some of the questions that were going around in social media about the rescue of Reshma. However, that did not happen. No proper answers were given by Reshma or the army personnel at the press conference, but the mystery surrounding her rescue had further intensified.

The press conference was called at 1.00pm yesterday at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) to give an update on the physical condition of Reshma and to relate circumstances leading to her rescue. Reshma is under treatment at the CMH.

Even though it was a press conference, there were many restrictions on journalists to ask questions. Despite the presence of over 50 journalists, only three pre-selected journalists were allowed to ask questions.

Although the press conference was scheduled to take place at 1.00pm, journalists were kept waiting until 3.00pm at CMH’s Abdur Rauf gate. The time of the press conference was changed three times. Finally, the press conference was fixed to go ahead at 5.00pm.

However, journalists were taken to the open field outside the CMH at 3.00pm. There, Major Mohammed Tauhiduzzaman made a list of which journalists will ask what questions. Major Zaman warned journalists repeatedly that they could not ask more than one question. He warned that they could not ask any question that may cause unease.

Journalists asked why such steps were being taken exclusively with Reshma in the midst of hundreds of dead factory workers. Why was Reshma not being taken normally in front of the public?

In response to this question, Major Tauhiduzzaman told journalists that this was a difficult question and that he would not be able to answer this at the press conference. This question will be addressed separately by the army’s public relations wing, ISPR to journalists. Only the ISPR had knowledge about this.

Reshma was brought to the corridors of the CMH at 5:10pm. Reshma’s parents or any of her relatives were not present during the press briefing.

Reshma’s physical condition was explained by Dr Azizur Rahman who headed up the seven-member medical team treating Reshma.

He said at the press conference that Reshma was being taken care of at the Intensive Care Unit. Because her immunity levels had dropped, she was being given antibiotic injections rather than saline. She was puzzled or in a state of bewilderment. She was having panic attacks every now and then. This is why she was being given treatment to return her to normality. However, she was now in a much better condition. She would soon be transferred to a normal medical ward.

Then, Reshma spoke of her own experience. She talked about what she was doing on the morning of the building collapse and what she had said to others around her.

When a journalist asked about the building collapsing, Reshma, who was seated in a wheelchair next to army officers said that she was hit on the head and lost consciousness. She could not remember anything after that. She could not remember properly when she gained consciousness. She said that she was not stuck anywhere. Many had died in front of her crying and screaming. She saw many people who were with her passing away.

A journalist asked where and how she was stuck. Was there any empty space in front of her? How did she wear new clothes and where did she get it? What did she eat? Where did she get the four pieces of biscuits and water and how did she get it? If Reshma was stuck under the rubble or fell on the ground and lost consciousness, then she would not have had her lunch box with her. Reshma answered these questions in an extremely low voice. Although nobody could hear what she was saying, an army officer said to journalists after lip-reading, “Reshma was stuck on the third floor. She came down from there. She had crawled from one place to another. She spent 17 days just eating four pieces of biscuits and water”.

The army officer added that Reshma had changed her clothes several times by taking clothes from a bundle in a clothes shop situated on the second floor. Reshma said that she saw new hope of life after seeing light from above. Then, she appealed to rescuers to save her life. Rescuers went to her when she raised a pipe through an opening in the building.

When Reshma was brought to the press conference, army officers stated repeatedly that Reshma was sick and that she had become frightened.

However, Reshma did not seem that frightened. Nurse Irene was pressing her shoulders and head from behind to stop her from speaking. She waved with her hands to the journalists in a very happy mood at the end of the press conference.

Reshma said that she had eaten four pieces of biscuits, drunk water and worn clothes while stuck in the wreckage. Even another male factory worker stuck on the third floor had asked her for water to drink! He died after not getting any water.

She was asked that many had died around her and those dead bodies were also taken out, but why did she not scream for help then? What did she do for 17 days in there? She was able to wear matching clothes but not able to scream for help in these 17 days? But, these questions remained unanswered.

Reshma’s eyes did not resemble those of a person who had gone 17 days without food and water. There was no sign of weariness in her eyes. She did not even seem that frightened.

She had looked more fresh on 24 May when she was being rescued, but her eyes, face and arms were being shown to be more wounded at the press conference.

News source: Amar Desh

Image source: Xinhuanet