Villagers mourn victims of deadly Mirsharai train-microbus collision

Seven of the 11 people who died in the accident in Mirsharai were current or former students of KS Noju Mia High School of Hathazari

Uttam Sen GuptaChattogram
Published : 30 July 2022, 04:00 PM
Updated : 30 July 2022, 06:47 PM

Two tragedies played out 11 years apart, but they bear some painful resemblance.

In July 2011, 43 students of Abu Torab Government Primary School in Chattogram’s Mirsharai died in one of the worst road accidents in Bangladesh.

On Friday, a similar tragedy struck another school in nearby Hathazari Upazila. Seven of the 11 people who died in a train-microbus collision near Khoiychhara waterfall in Mirsharai were current or former students of KS Noju Mia High School in Hathazari.

Thousands joined funeral prayers on Saturday for the young residents of Khandakia village.

Mosab Ahmed Hisham, Samirul Islam Hasan and Iqbal Hossain Maruf were candidates for Secondary School Certificate, said Muhammad Shafiul Alam, headmaster of the school. “They were brilliant students,” he said.

Microbus driver Golam Mostafa Niru, R&G Coaching Centre teachers Mostafa Masud Rakib, Ridwanul Chowdhury and Sazzad Hossain were former students of the school. Most of the teachers of the coaching centre were undergraduate students of local colleges.

Sixteen teachers and students of the private coaching centre were returning home after a picnic at Khoiyachhara waterfall. Chattogram-bound Mahanagar Prabhati hit their microbus after it got on the tracks.

Railway authorities and police are investigating how the vehicles got on the tracks although a gateman was supposed to be on duty and the level crossing has boom barriers.

As the bodies arrived in the village, families, relatives, neighbours and other mourners thronged the high school and Khandakia Somdia Government Primary School. The funeral prayers for six of the victims were held at the primary school’s grounds.

The high school declared three days of mourning, during which academic activities will remain suspended and black flags will be hoisted.

“We heard of so many deaths in a single area in 2011 when the students of Abu Torab School in Mirsharai died. Now it has happened to the students of our school,” said Assistant Headmaster Sadhan Chandra Nath.

“It’s difficult for us to accept.”

Abdullah Arif Risad, a teacher at the coaching centre, said he decided not to go to the waterfall, a change of mind at the last minute that saved his life.

“Four of those who launched the coaching centre have died in the accident,” a tearful Risad said. “We were together the day before yesterday. I was supposed to go to the picnic, but I changed my mind yesterday morning. That’s why I am still alive. Now I have nothing to do but to pray for them.”

SSC candidate Maruf’s mother Kamrunnahar and grandmother Noor Nahar Begum were wailing at their home. Maruf grew up in his maternal grandparents’ home after the separation of his parents.

“My daughter divorced her husband when she was very young. We received many proposals for her marriage later. Maruf always asked us not to marry her off. He said he would pay for the living cost when he would grow up,” Noor Nahar said, recalling that Maruf wanted to join the army.

Assistant Headmaster Sadhan also said Maruf wanted to work in the army. He was a member of Bangladesh National Cadet Corps.

Headmaster Shafiul said they believed Maruf would secure maximum grade points in the SSC exams. “Now he has left us forever.”

Mother Kamrunnahar said she started calling Maruf on his number upon hearing about the accident, but no one answered. “Finally I got the body of my son.”

She has a twin son and daughter who study in class six. “Maruf wanted to make us happy by joining the army after passing SSC exams. Now all our hopes are lost,” said Kamrunnahar.

“My son did not even ask us for the picnic fees. His friends paid for him.

Maruf’s classmate Hisham lost his father when he was 2 years old, his uncle Mohammad Hossain said. Hisham’s elder brother lives in Spain and sister in Canada. His mother went to Canada to live with her daughter two and half years ago but Hisham was stuck in Bangladesh due to visa complications.

He was supposed to go to Canada after the SSC exams.

“He [Hisham] bought a shroud for his ailing Nana [maternal grandfather] some days ago. My brother scolded him for that. Today, we’ve used that shroud for Hisham’s burial,” Mohammad said, sounding ironic.

Mohammad and his brother Akbar Hossain rushed to Chattogram Medical College Hospital after the accident.

“We realised what happened to him [Hisham] as he was not among those injured,” said Hossain.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher