Four shrine devotees are victims of mismanagement in Akhaura

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Moynal Bhuiyan

Brahmanbaria Correspondent

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Eati Akter

Sub editor

 On paper, the number of members of the law enforcement force is about 500. There are about 50 railway policemen to watch the railway line of one and a half to two kilometers. However, thousands of shrine devotees passed in front of those policemen. Four shrine devotees died due to no apology. The four died in an accident on Thursday night while carrying the oars of the shrine of Shah Syed Ahmad Geshudaraj (R.H.) located in Kharampur area of Akhaura, Brahmanbaria. Among them, three people jumped when they saw the train coming and one died after being hit by the train.

Devotees of the shrine blame this on gross mismanagement in the management of Ors. Many people have criticized the lack of action from the beginning despite repeated accidents at the same place over the past few years after the new railway line was laid. Meanwhile, apart from the movement of people on the railway line, various mismanagement was seen on the ground. The local leaders of the shrine committee mainly focus on trade and do not pay attention to other aspects including the safety of the visitors. Many have expressed their anger about this. On Friday afternoon, traffic was stopped by blocking both sides of the bridge with bamboo. Besides, movement along the railway line has also been restricted. However, it is not possible to control it completely as many people have come by sea and are staying along the railway line with boats. Meanwhile, the names of three of those killed in the accident on Thursday night have been confirmed. They are Sukkur Mia (60) son of Gazi Mia of Nowakandi village of Madhavadi upazila of Narsingdi district, Mozammel (20) son of Motaleb Mia of Palash upazila of the same district, Chere Moti Bhuiya (55) of Tamiz Uddin village of Chilkandi village of Arai Hazar upazila of Narayanganj district. Another person’s house is known in Daganbhooya upazila of Noakhali but his name could not be confirmed. The police rescued an injured person named Amirul Islam and sent him to Akhaura hospital at night. On Friday morning, his relatives came and took him to Narsingdi District Headquarters Hospital.

Hundreds of people, including the injured, were walking along the railway line when the Dhaka-bound Parabat Express from Sylhet crossed the shrine area around 9:30 on Thursday night. Meanwhile, some people on the bridge jumped. Sukkur Ali was cut and killed on the spot. A little later, Mozammel’s body was found in the Titus River. Two more bodies were found in the river on Friday morning and afternoon. Police and fire service personnel recovered these bodies. According to the railway police, hundreds of devotees of the shrine were going towards Kharampur shrine along the railway line, ignoring the obstacles of the police on duty at night. At that time, seeing the Dhaka-bound Parabat Express leaving Sylhet, Sukkur Mia jumped from the bridge. Another died after being cut while crossing the bridge. Several other people were missing at that time. Going to the ground, it can be seen that thousands of people gathered on Thursday night. There were quite a few people on Friday morning from 10 am to 11 am. Walking is also a must because of the stalls of the fair sitting on the occasion of the shrine. The main entrance road to the shrine suffers from not being very wide. There is a jetty just to the south of the shrine, but there is no boat mooring there. That is why boats have to be kept in the river Titus next to the railway which bypasses from Akhaura to Sylhet. From there, people can be seen coming to the shrine along the railway line. Although thousands of people gather every day, many have expressed their anger over the lack of adequate provision of drinking water and toilets. Several shops are seen selling food in unsanitary conditions. About the incident on Thursday night, Samsul Haque, the younger brother of Sukkar Ali, said, “40-45 of us came to Kharampur with a boat around eight o’clock at night. A few people left the boat beside the railway line to the west of the shrine while walking towards the shrine when suddenly a train came. At this time my brother fell into the water. After the rescue, we identified his body.

Rafiqul Islam Khadem, General Secretary of Mazar Sharif Management Committee, told Mintu Inkilab that there are “five hundred” law enforcement officers in charge of security. Only 54 people are responsible for the security of the railway section. Even so, such an incident happened. I think if everyone does their due responsibilities, such untoward incidents can be avoided. We have said the words to the concerned. There was also a meeting about this before Ors. Where preparations are made in general. He said that overall, maximum cooperation is being given by the committee. If concerned fail in overall security then they will try their best. We want Oras to be celebrated beautifully and smoothly. Jasim Uddin Khandkar, Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Akhaura Railway Police Station said, “People coming to the shrine were crossing the railway bridge ignoring the police barriers. At that time, when the Dhaka-bound Parabat train arrived, the policemen on duty on both sides signaled the arrival of the train by blowing the whistle. At that time, even if everyone got off the railway line, those few people wanted to cross the railway bridge at risk.

On Friday afternoon, he said that after the incident, he was unable to pray, eat and drink properly while performing his duties. He said, “50 policemen are being made on duty in three shifts. It includes stations along with railway line areas. All in all, it is difficult to handle so many lakes. We are trying our best. The traffic on the bridge has been completely stopped with bamboo fences on both sides. Besides, the people walking along the railway line are being warned. Akhaura Fire Service Station Officer Munim Sarwar told reporters, ‘We went there immediately after the incident. Two bodies were recovered on Thursday night and two more on Friday. Looking for any more bodies.

Officer-in-charge (OC) of Akhaura police station. Asadul Islam said that sufficient security measures were taken on the occasion of Ors. The railway police are in charge of the section of the railway line. The bodies of the deceased have been handed over to their relatives.

Vice President of Mazar Sharif Management Committee and Akhaura Upazila Nirbahi Officer Angyajai Marma said, “The railway bridge where the accident happened has been closed for people to cross.” Additional police have been deployed there. Besides, volunteers have also been given responsibility there. It is to be noted that the annual Ors has started at Akhaura Kharampur Mazar Sharif from Thursday. The Ors will end with the last prayer on August 14. Millions of people congregate in Ors. A fair is held in and around the shrine on the occasion of Ors.

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Moynal Bhuiyan

Brahmanbaria Correspondent

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