Nilkhet has been the Mecca of print, production, and distribution of all sorts of books for decades in Dhaka and, in extension, the whole nation. Last Tuesday, on 22nd February, the area was ridden by a horrific fire tragedy.
Fortunately, there were no reports of fatalities or casualties. The amount of the damage was still to be determined by the authorities. According to the shopowners’ estimate, there was a loss of nearly 5-6 crores in the fire.
The Fire Service got the information at around 07:43 PM. Teams were deployed from Polashi, Azimpur, and Lalbagh stations promptly. The Fire Service and Civil Defence had to use 10 fire engines to put out the fire. After a whole hour around 08:50 PM, the fire was under control.
The area consists of multiple book markets adjacent to each other. Apart from a few individual testimonies, the source of the fire is unknown with certainty. A shopkeeper told, the fire broke from the southwest corner of the multistoried Hazrat Shahjalal Market and quickly spread to the center, destroying the stores. Another testimony eyewitnesses claimed that the fire had broken out from a book shop named Charukola and spread to several restaurants, including the nearby Alamin Hotel and Lovely Hotel.
At least about 50 shops in the market faced severe damages from the accident. According to a shopkeeper, all the stocks of 15 shops were completely incinerated to ashes.
Nilkhet traders were finally making a turnaround in this Ekushey Book Fair season after 2 years of brutal pandemic but had to take a double loss due to horrific tragedy. Even some of the bookstores which did not catch fire had to take a loss when their book collection was soaked wet by the water from Fire Service.
This was a tragedy that shook the whole nation and left every booklover and intellectual in grief. We hope the victims may recover from all the damages and hardships they are facing. Until then we keep them in our thoughts and prayers.