Roads from the Dhaka airport to Gazipur were packed with thousands of pilgrims as they made their way back home at the end of the first phase of Biswa Ijtema, the second biggest congregation of Muslims after the Hajj.
The pilgrims boarded buses, mini-trucks, push carts and other forms of transportation available near the Ijtema ground to return home. Trains were also crammed with returnees from the Ijtema.
Devotees streamed out of the Ijtema venue on the banks of the Turag river in Tongi after taking part in the 'Akheri Munajat' or the final prayer at 10 am on Sunday. But many of them suffered due to the lack of adequate transport on the streets.
No direct transport from the Ijtema ground to Dhaka was available and so, many of the participants headed to their destination on foot while others hired private cars, autorickshaws, vans, motorcycles, and pickups for a premium.
Most of the pilgrims walked back to Dhaka as they failed to find transport, said Al Amin, a resident of Kakrail.
People travelled in groups at different times to attend the final prayer, said Nowzesh Ali, a native of Gazipur’s Pubail. But while returning, they all headed out at the same time, causing a transport crisis, he added. “That’s why they had to more than the usual fare.”
Sanowar Hossain reached the airport area from Abdullahpur on a pickup van. “I paid Tk 150 to get to [the Ijtema venue] on a pickup before the final prayer started. But I had to pay Tk 200 on my way back.”
Meanwhile, Kamal Hossain started for Tejgaon on foot. He caught rides on a bus and an autorickshaw to get to the Ijtema ground, but he did not find any transport while returning. “I’ll walk to Khilkhet now and then catch a bus from Kuril. Otherwise, I’ll walk home,”
As many as three trains left the Ijtema area for Kamalapur as of 1 pm on Sunday.
Ikramul Haque, a passenger, missed two trains and finally got a place to sit in the locomotive. “The train is jam-packed with people. It’s the same on the rooftop,” he told bdnews24.com.
Many people walked all the way back to the airport before catching a bus, while some went further to Kakoli in Banani on foot.
A mini truck is offering a ride to Mohakhali from the airport area for Tk 100, said another passenger Hafizur Rahman. He started walking after the final prayer ended and reached the airport area on foot.
Long rows of empty buses were seen near the Mohakhali flyover at noon as they waited for passengers.
The next phase of the Ijtema will be held from Jan 20-22. The disciples of Delhi’s Moulana Saad Kandhalvi will attend the second phase.