At least 10 people were killed and around 50 injured as guests rushed into a community centre to attend a post-funeral feast for the late former mayor ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury in Chittagong city on Monday.
The incident took place about 1:30pm at Rima Convention Centre on Shaheed Saifuddin Khaled Road near Askar Dighir Par where a mezban, a traditional feast, for non-Muslim people was arranged.
‘We have received 10 bodies while 20 injured people were taken to different wards of Chittagong Medical College Hospital,’ said inspector Zahirul Hoque Bhuiyan, in-charge of the hospital police outpost.
‘Of the injured, five have been shifted to the intensive care unit of CMCH and a private hospital in the city,’ he added.
Coordinator of the venue, Chittagong City Corporation’s Anderkilla ward councillor Jahar Lal Hazari, said Rima Convention Centre was reserved for non-Muslims.
‘About 2,000 people were waiting outside the venue when the first batch was taking food. Once the first batch completed eating, everyone waiting outside tried to enter the convention centre at a time, which caused the stampede,’ Jahar Lal, also the deputy office secretary of Chittagong city AL, said.
A witness, Naru Gopal Das, told New Age that at least 50 people were injured in the incident.
‘With the crowd swelling out of control, people jostled for space on the ramp outside the entrance forcing some visitors to fall only to be trampled on by those behind,’ Naru Gopal described.
Another witness said that the convention centre was lower by at least eight feet from its gate adjacent to the main road and the pressure of people was higher as they had been rushing down the slope.
Those who were killed were at the entrance to the convention centre, he said.
The organisers immediately stopped the programme.
During visit to the spot after the incident, hundreds of shoes and slippers were found littering the venue having bloodstains here and there.
The dead — Subir Das, 45, son of Lal Mohon Das, Pradeep Talukder, 42, son of Monoronjon Talukder, Jhantu Das, 42, son of Binod Bihari Das, Krishna Pada Das, 35, son of Roy Chandra Das, Liton Deb, 45, son of Prakriti Ranjan Deb, Dipongkar Das Rahul, 22, a 3rd year history student of Chittagong University, Sucharito Das Khokhon, 45, Sukumar Das, 35, Dhona Shil, 38, Kanak Das, 34, are residents of different areas in the port city.
Mohiuddin, who was the city Awami League president, died on December 15. His family arranged the feast for 1,20,000 people at 14 venues across the city, including Rima Convention Centre.
The organisers said they had an arrangement for 15,000 guests at the two-storey Rima Convention Centre, having a seating arrangement for 2,000 people at a time.
After the incident, Mohiuddin’s elder son Mohibul Hassan Chowdhury Noufel and local AL leaders rushed to the hospital. Noufel is an organising secretary of central AL.
Chittagong Metropolitan police commissioner Iqbal Bahar and deputy commissioner of Chittagong Jillur Rahman Chowdhury also came to the hospital.
A pall of gloom descended there, with relatives and friends wailing over the bodies of their near and dear ones.
Victim Dipankar’s friends, who came to the feast with him, and his brother Probal Das burst into tears on the hospital premises.
One of Dipongkar’s friends, Ovi Chakrabarty, also a CU Bangla department student, lamented describing how Dipongkar died in front of their eyes.
CMP commissioner told reporters, ‘It’s not that clashes broke out. There was no lack of security. People were injured falling to the ground during the rush of people.’
They would launch an inquiry to see whether there was any negligence about safety and security, the commissioner added.
The administration in Chittagong announced Tk 1 lakh for each of the deceased’s family and family of the late mayor would bear the cost of their funeral and the medical expenses of the injured.
Mohiuddin Chowdhury, 73, died at Max Hospital in Chittagong city. He was the city mayor for three times and president of Chittagong city AL till death.
Before that, he was city unit general secretary of the party for two decades.
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