Surviving passengers have blamed Sona Mia alias Sona Majhi, boatman of the trawler over the death of 23 people in the trawler sink incident after colliding with two bulkheads (sand trawlers) at Laiska Beel of Brahmanbaria on 27 August evening.
Some of the surviving passengers have testified to the investigation committee that the tragic boat accident was a result of overcrowding and the boatman's fault.
Sona Mia, resident of Chhatarpur village in Champaknagar union of Bijoynagar upazila, has been on the run since the sinking of the trawler.
A three-member committee was formed on the day of the incident by the district administration to investigate the trawler sinking. The committee is led by Additional District Magistrate Ruhul Amin. The other two members of the committee are Additional Superintendent of Police (Sadar Circle) Mozammel Hossain Reza and Deputy Assistant Director of Fire Service Taufiqul Islam.
The committee informed that the cause of the accident is not yet clear.
Selim Mia, who lost four members of his family in the fateful incident, filed a case against seven people, including the owner, boatman and associates of the two bulkheads, on 28 August.
Three drivers and associates of the empty bulkhead, Jamir Mia, Md Rasel, Khokon Mia and the owner Md Solaiman have been accused in the case.
The owner of the sand-filled bulkhead, Mostafa Mia, along with Solaiman Mia and Mistu Mia, two members of the Champaknagar shipping control syndicate, have also been accused in the case.
However, Sona Mia and his two associates were not accused in the case.
Witnesses said, the trawler left Champaknagar at 4.30 pm on 27 August with more than 100 passengers for the Anandabazar ferry terminal in Brahmanbaria town. The trawler collided with an empty bulkhead coming from the opposite direction in Laiska Beel. Then the passenger trawler sank when it collided with another bulkhead filled with sand behind the empty bulkhead.
Jamal Mia, a passenger who survived the trawler sinking, hailing from Kandipara in Brahmanbaria town said, "That day, the passengers told the boatman to steer to the right side seeing the two bulkheads coming. But the boatman did not listen and steered to the left side when it collided with the bulkheads."
Additional Superintendent of Police (Sadar Circle) Mozammel Hossain Reza, who is also a member of the probe committee, said, "The cause of the trawler sinking is still not clear to us. The investigation is still ongoing. Eyewitnesses said in their testimony that the trawler had more than a hundred passengers. They claimed that it was the boatman's wrong decision that led to colliding with the empty bulkhead. After that, the boatman became unstable and hit the sand-filled bulkhead causing the trawler to sink."