Massacre or suicide?

Mohammad Ali Sattar

We have learned to live with the fact that the crazy rush for home has become part and parcel of our annual festival

  • Photo- Nashirul Islam

Just prior to Eid, things were relatively calm in the commuting sector. We saw the communication minister sweating it out to ensure a relatively comfortable journey for the homebound commuters.

The halting of construction work, speedy repairs of the rough patches, the stopping of inter-district trucks a few days before the Eid rush, and the continued verbal instructions worked well. There weren’t many complaints.

Nevertheless, we had the usual rush and overloading of passengers by trains and steamers. Business for road transporters wasn’t brisk.

Over and above, things wore a cooler picture than many times in the past.

By now, we have learned to live with the fact that the crazy rush for home has become part and parcel of our annual festival. People would go to any length to secure a seat or standing (or hanging) space in any vehicle that will carry them to their destinations. They find it amusing and don’t fear the looming disasters.

They would even dare to climb any height onto the roof of a train or a bus, or undertake the hazardous journey on an overloaded launch through the rough waters of the mighty rivers, that too, in the most perilous weather conditions.

They don’t care if they live or perish. This loose mindset and dangerously bent attitude towards life is fanaticism at its worse.

The scenario changed after Eid. Suddenly, there was a surge of accidents all around the country. There were continued reports of dreadful train-car collisions, a bridal party bus being rammed by a train, a three-wheeler run over by a train, a car destroyed by a train … it kept on happening, killing people at will.

And then, there were the ghastly (but usual) road accidents – head-on collisions between buses, trucks, and cars.

People were charred alive, a truck-bus crash left many mutilated, car crashes with all four family members met a painful end, and so on.

Reckless acts will go on, you can bet. Because we don’t care, life is only secondary. Money has become the first God (forgive me Lord, but I can’t help saying so).

Then came the Pinak 6 disaster. I, for one, wasn’t surprised at all. Wasn’t this another misfortune that could have been averted had we worked on time? All previous accidents could have been avoided if we cared for ourselves.

The Pinak 6 story reveals the old sordid tale of overloading, fake papers, unfit vessels, and so on. The desperation of the owners and launch drivers reached such an extent that they not only overcrowded the launch at the starting point, they went on to stop at a non-designated point and took a further 50 to 60 people on-board, thus taking the passengers’ tally to some 250 plus. The actual capacity was only 85. The reason: Making a fast buck. The outcome: Deaths. But so what?

The footage, taken on a cell phone, showed the tragic sight and the size of the launch. Even under normal circumstances, with such a load, the launch wouldn’t have made its way to the shore.

The search goes on till today. What would the authorities gain by salvaging the ill-fated vessel from under the water? Who would be interested in seeing the bloated, disfigured, and putrid bodies of the victims? This will only further damage the dismayed psyche of the nation.

Prevention is better than cure, so they say. What’s the damn problem with us? What’s stopping the authorities from arresting the trend at starting points of the terminals, be it road, rail, or water? Why should the owners enjoy butter on both sides of their breads? Why are some people made the scapegoats?

Finally, the people should also take responsibility for themselves. Why must they fall into traps laid by the cash-hungry devils? By now it’s clear that the authorities will not do anything to prevent such acts. The rule of law has been long abandoned by a quarter.

The common man has also been inflicted by Ebola of ignorance and desperation. In these incidents, you will find instances of thoughtless laxity on the part of private owners and government authorities, and on the other hand, the commuters are caught in sheer desperation.

In the process, it has become a daily practice of death in a cold mode – each time bringing a disastrous end to hopes of a family. We go through trials and tribulations after each death game. And the list of enquiry committees keeps getting larger.

People responsible for the “killings” are kept afloat. The owners and authorities are committing murder by flouting rules and cheating people, while the people are committing mass suicide by acting ridiculously.

Dear readers, watch out for the next news scroll on your mini screen, it could be your dear one “finished” in a tragic accident, anywhere.

The solution? Awareness. People need to campaign throughout the year against corrupt owners, authorities, and law enforcers.

Source: Dhaka Tribune


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