Dhaka, Bangladesh
Tragedy of Satkania stampede

Editorial

Tragedy of Satkania stampede

Eleven women were killed and around twenty-five injured in a stampede where over 30,000 people gathered to collect zakat and essentials provided by the industrial group Kabir Steel and Rerolling Mills (KSRM) at a village in Satkania of Chittagong district on May 14th. When people came to know about Kabir Steel and Rerolling Mills distribution of 5kg rice, 5kg lentils Tk 1000 cash, and a sari for each woman, they started gathering in front of the gate of Amnis bari Jame-Masjid ground at Ghatiadanga village. Around 9 am the gate of the mosque compound was opened for the women. Over 30,000 women tried to enter at once. Some fell to the ground and got trampled. Eleven women died and many were on the ground unconscious. The Chittagong superintendent of police opined that the cause of the death might be heatstroke while one or two may have been directly trampled. But the highest temperature of Chittagong was only 23 degrees centigrade, not high enough to cause heat-stroke. Only at temperatures above 35 degrees centigrade, heat-strokes affect people. A five member probe body has been formed by the Deputy Commissioner of Chittagong to investigate the matter. It seems that the District and Police administration were not informed about this programme for thousands of people in a small place. Such permission may not have been given.Meherul Karim, Chief Executive of KSRM has said that Taka three lakhs would be given to families of each of the deceased, in addition to their burial costs. Stampedes are all too common in Bangladesh, which is now an overpopulated country. Ten people died and about forty others were injured in a stampede at the kulkhwani of former Chittagong mayor Mohiuddin Chowdhury in December last year. At least 27 people died in a stampede in July 2015, during the distribution of zakat in Mymensingh town. Zakat means sanctity and growth. And zakat given by a well-to-do person is sanctified from the greed for wealth ad from miserliness. It also helps the poor of a nation in their daily life's penury. Bangladesh was one of the poorest countries in the world, though it is now seeing the light of light of growth of per capita income. Still zakat distribution occasions the presence of many poor people, particularly if such occasions are announced well before the event. Hence any such public zakat offering should be notified to the local police and the local administration who can maintain order and prevent chaos such as the latest one at Satkania killing eleven women and injuring many in the stampede for collecting the zakat gifts.

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