Five people were killed and over 50 others injured in the stampedes last Wednesday, leaving many shocked
Never had 14-year-old Rifat Hossain thought that he would face such a tragic incident in his life so early.
Celebrating Eid with their mother is a joyful event for any child and he is no exception.
On the way to their village home in Madaripur from Dhaka, Rifat and his mother Nipa Begum, 35, had to endure hardships to reach Munshiganj's Shimulia ferry terminal on Wednesday.
Despite the sufferings, Rifat was still happy thinking about how he would celebrate the upcoming holidays with near and dear ones once they reach home.
But, little did he know what fate had waiting for them when they boarded the Enayetpuri ferry, overcrowded with a huge number of holidaymakers, to reach Banglabazar in Madaripur's Shibchar upazila.
After the ferry crossed the Padma River and touched the pier, hundreds of passengers jostled and shoved to get off the vessel at the same time.
Rifat somehow managed to reach the pontoon with a bag in his hand but he lost sight of his mother Nipa.
Also Read - 5 killed in stampedes on Padma River ferries
Worried, he thought initially that his mother might have gone in another direction following the jostling incident, and started looking for her in the pontoon area, but his efforts failed.
As the crowd got thinner by then, Rifat went back to the ferry only to find his mother’s body lying on the deck.
With a shattered heart, the boy broke into tears when he was describing the incident to this correspondent.
Nipa was among the five people who died in two separate stampedes at the Banglabazar ferry terminal on Wednesday afternoon. More than 50 others were also injured in the incidents.
Shibchar police OC Md Miraz Hossain said that the stampede broke out on the two ferries due to the huge pressure of passengers.
Soon after the incidents, the Madaripur district administration gave Tk20,000 to the families of each deceased.
Also Read - Higher fare, transport crisis on Eid day
However, the aid will hardly be able to remove Rifat’s agony from returning home with his mother's dead body.
Millions of people had left Dhaka city over the past week to celebrate Eid at their village homes with families, violating the government-imposed restrictions on public movement and ignoring the risks of coronavirus infection.
Amid the ban on inter-district bus, launch, and train, the holidaymakers were desperate to reach their destinations by using various modes of transport -- be it on the roads or rivers.
A huge number of the home-goers had poured in Shimulia and Paturia ferry terminals to cross the Padma River since the exodus started.
Although the authorities initially suspended the ferry operations for passengers, the services were restored on Thursday following the stampedes and because of the excessive rush of holidaymakers.
Home-bound passengers to northern districts were seen travelling on cars, microbuses, pickup vans, motorcycles, CNG-run auto-rickshaws, and covered vans on the Dhaka-Tangail-Bangabandhu Bridge Highway.
Despite a ban on their movement, some long-route buses were also seen plying the major roads while highways witnessed long tailbacks.