Their last trip together

Crossing river gets increasingly risky for freestyle plying of vessels
Monika and Ripon were lucky to be employed in the same institution. Returning home together from work became the daily routine of the newly married couple.

On Saturday, as his shift ended at 2:00pm, much earlier than his wife’s, Ripon was hanging around for six hours near Sir Salimullah Medical College and Mitford Hospital. They joined there as class-IV employees nine months ago.

Monika left office at 8:10pm. The two went to Mitford ghat and got on a Kamrangirchar bound engine boat around 8:15pm.

Little did they know it was their last trip together.

She was holding her husband’s hand. Suddenly two cargo boats from opposite directions sandwiched the passenger boat near Banshpotti of Keraniganj.

“I kept holding his hand until I realised he was drowning fast along with the boat,” recollected Monika at Mitford hospital where she had been taken.

“I tried to pull him up but failed as his leg was stuck in the boat,” said Monika as her wailing sliced through the midnight silence at the hospital.

She tried to swim ashore and finally a passing boat rescued her.

The 22-year-old knew her husband could not make it.

Monika Akhter, of Gopalganj, and Mostafa Kamal Ripon, 30, of Mehendiganj in Barisal, were living in Kamrangirchar. They got married early June after falling in love.

Hearing the news of the accident, her father Omar Kazi rushed to the capital from Tungipara in Gopalganj and learned in the hospital corridor for the first time that her daughter was married.

“She never informed us about the marriage. She visited us a month ago and told that she had something to share with us,” Omar Kazi said.

“I think she did not disclose the matter out of fear that we might not accept the marriage,” he added.

Monika cannot believe that she has lost Ripon and she was fainting frequently at the hospital.

Meanwhile, Department of Shipping yesterday formed a three-member body to investigate the boat capsize. The body is supposed to complete the probe in 10 working days.

BIWTA’s rescue vessel Rustam salvaged the boat yesterday around 3:00pm. Most of the 50 passengers on the boat had managed to swim ashore.

Seven people were still missing as of yesterday evening. The other dead has been identified as Md Ameer, 40, who hailed from Lauhajang in Munshiganj.

Police filed a case against the drivers of the two cargo vessels.

Cargo vessels overloaded with sand are frequently seen plying the Buriganga and are often involved in collisions with other vessels.

daily star

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