October 2, 2022, 4:07 am
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Shipwrecks in moving boats, seeing death up close

Reporter Name 27 Time View
Update : Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Symbolic image.
Mosharraf Hossain Musa //

Those who have dived in childhood have an experience; That is how long one can stay submerged. I used to stick my fingers in both ears and dive in the water until I was out of breath and at one point I would rise above the water with a hiss and declare myself victorious. Is the moment of choking too painful? In my experience it doesn’t say that. However, in case of death in a boat or launch sinking, there is more fear than pain. On August 31, 2018, I got proof of that after coming back from drowning in water.

I myself am a promoter of primary culture. Five people died untimely due to slight carelessness. For that, it is not necessary to say something out of one’s sense of responsibility. Shafi Khan (Riju Bhai) of Kushtia city has been living in America for a long time. That year he returned home and decided to do something in the country. On that occasion he became close with him. He has been saying for six months that he has never seen a bill. For that, he is interested in seeing the bills with his family. Last August 31, 2018 we all decided to travel to Chalanbil. Eight people from Kushtia city came to Bhangura Baral Bridge along with CNG and met us. Two of my close friends Saidur Rahman (NGO consultant) and Tarif Hossain (singer and sound researcher) came with Kushtiar Shafi Khan. A total of 25 of us reached Charbhangura Ghat at 10:30 am.

Incidentally, Ishwardi drug dealer Rafiqul Islam’s house is in Chalanbil area, so he was given the responsibility of renting a boat. Saidur Rahman disagrees about Rafiqul Islam’s preferred boat. Because a tea shopkeeper showed another boat (the same shopkeeper fixed the boat last year too).

It should be noted that one day after the accident, he saw me and cried after admitting his guilt). At the end Saidur Rahman’s favorite boat was rented for 2 thousand taka. An agreement was made with the driver that he would take him to Tarash Upazila and drop him at Mannan Nagar on Sirajganj Road on the way. Our fellow traveler Abdul Majeed’s wife is suffering from arthritis so she cannot sit on her knees. For that an old plastic chair is bought for him. Around 11 o’clock we happily started the journey. At the beginning of the journey 7-8 men and 2 women sit on the chai. I asked the sailor if more people get up to break the chai or not! The sailor assured that even if 25 people get on board, nothing will happen. At 2:30 PM we went to Tarash Bazaar and had lunch at a hotel called ‘Shubda’. Note that Abdul Majid stayed on the boat with his sick wife. After eating by boat, we come to the world road and are not ready to get off. Then Alamgir Kabir (working in pulse research) said, “Bhabhi (Majid’s wife) cannot climb the high road.” Abdul Majid also supported his words. Billal Gani opined – ‘What is the need to go to Bhangura again by boat? The bill has already been seen, let’s go on the road through the forest.” His words could not be heard well over the sound of the cello machine. That’s why I try to get everyone’s attention by saying his opinion out loud. But his opinion was ignored. Then Saidur Rahman said, ‘Then we will finish the journey by going to the place from where we got up. Night will not be a problem. Let’s all light the mobile torch together. Everyone laughed at his words. As a result, it was decided to go back to Bhangura.

It was around 6:30 PM when we crossed the Handial Paikpara ‘Katakhal’. When two of the Kushtia people standing at Chai’s head stood up, there was a sudden crash. It seemed that the boat had hit one of the poles hard. I was behind the six. I see the boat sinking fast. I saw people scattered and floating in the water. Some are shouting, ‘Brothers come forward! Save us!’ The first thing I noticed was my 7th grade daughter Arpa. He is throwing both hands and shouting, ‘Save my father! Save the father! He grabbed my throat as I jumped towards him. Father and daughter continue to sink. Many thoughts come to mind in seconds. This is the moment before death? Will we both drown together and create history, or just live alone? At one point I freed myself from his grip with all my might and floated up and gasped. I see the girl floating up and eating water like a cuttlefish and father with a weak voice! Father! calling Knowing how to swim, I try to stay afloat with both legs and hold one of her arms with one hand. I see a bottle floating. I said to the girl, ‘Dad, catch the bottle.’ She failed to catch the bottle. I saw the bamboo log used by our boatman floating away. I caught it myself with a lot of difficulty and gave it to my daughter. Only 30 seconds should be floated. Because a boat is coming to rescue us. A second seemed like an eternity. Even though the boat came near, I could not catch it because of the current. The teenage boy (Suman) advances the baitha. I took hold of the boat and caught the boat, the girl also caught the boat with me. Someone pulled the girl into the boat and I floated a little. The rescue boy says, ‘You hold the boat, don’t get into the boat.’ Later I heard two other women named Shahnaz and Asma came forward to rescue in the same way with two dinghy boats.

My wife Shahnaz Parveen Paru and Billal Gani’s wife Mumtaz Parveen Shiuli Khatun got trapped inside the chai and went under the water. Swapan Biswas was walking towards the rescue boat holding one hand of his daughter Souda Moni and Rafiqul was also holding another hand of Souda Moni. But at one stage Swapan Biswas falls with his daughter. Rafiqul also released his hand in panic. Why Swapan Biswas sank despite being a good swimmer is a mystery. Billal Gani also knew how to swim. He managed to get his daughter into the boat but drowned himself. Thinking, they also fought like me; Maybe he drowned in the water due to the suddenness of the incident or panic. Surely my wife, Gani Bhai’s wife and Swapan Biswas wished the children well before suffocation. I rested for a while and tried to get up. But I did not get any strength to rise. If I had the strength I would swim back to the boat.

The girl is crying and saying, where is mom! Where is mom! In the meantime, the incident of boat sinking in different parts of the country including Ishwardi has become known. I heard that the incident of boat sinking is being broadcasted on television, Facebook and online magazines. Salimpur UP Chairman Abdul Majid Bablu Malitha, Iswardi Municipal Councilor Yusuf Ali Pradhan, Handyal UP Chairman Md. About two hundred people, including Zakir Hossain, people from the Agricultural Research Centre, rushed to the spot and stayed there all night. In this incident, the whole Ishwardi was stunned. Fire brigade personnel and divers from Bogra tried to raise the boat.

The next day the then Deputy Commissioner of Pabna. In the presence of Jasim Uddin, the rescue work continued and 5 bodies were recovered gradually. The cooperation of the village people is not to be forgotten. They stayed up all night assisting the fire brigade and divers and cooked khichuri and fed everyone. Karl Marx said – ‘The type of relationship with production determines the culture of man.’ There is evidence that the character of people who work hard and mingle with nature is pure.

Assistant Commissioner (Evaluation) Mahabub Hasan and DF Md. as representative of the Deputy Commissioner. Manowar Hossain went to my in-laws house in Saraikandi village and consoled my daughters. Moreover, Ishwardi’s then UNO Md. Al Mamun came to my house in Madhya Orankhola and expressed his condolences to everyone. Swapan Biswas was a favorite face in Ishwardi’s culture arena. Souda Mani was a 6th standard student. She excelled in all fields. Billal Gani’s father was a renowned Pir. As such he was an expert in Sufism philosophy. He was also a good tabla player. Everyone is shocked by their death. Some newspapers wrote that the accident happened while taking a selfie. In particular, a daily magazine on 8 September 18 lauded the rescuers in a cover story entitled ‘Extraordinary Courage of the Commons’ on the holiday and threw us back into the water. In one place of the report, it is written – ‘Passengers under the bridge climbed one by one on the bridge to take pictures. When everyone climbs to one side, the boat tilts. It shatters.’ This is not true. The actual incident is that the boat capsizes and sinks due to overcrowding in the front of the boat. Journalism is not about seeing, hearing and guessing. Nowadays, the number of tourists is increasing due to the increase in communication system and increase in financial capacity. For the same reason, hundreds of local and foreign tourists come to visit Chalonbil every year. But it is the responsibility of the local administration to see if the boats are fit and have lifejackets or even small tire-tubes. Local journalists are also responsible for writing about these issues.

 

Author/ boatman of the day and researcher on democratic local government.


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