At least 25 people, all of them women and children, were on Friday killed and 50 others injured in a stampede that took place when hundreds of people stormed the home of a businessman in northern Bangladesh for a charity handout during the holy month of Ramzan.
The stampede took place early in the morning when people gathered in front of the house of Shamim Talukder, who owns a chewing tobacco factory, to receive free gifts and clothes and tried to force their way in.
“We have so far recovered 25 bodies from the scene and sent several others with injuries to be treated at the MymensinghMedicalHospital,” said Kamrul Islam, officer-in-charge of Kotwali police station.
“The dead include 23 women and two children,” he said.
“About 1,500 people had gathered outside the businessman’s house to collect zakat (charity),” witnesses said.
“He stages this showoff every year in the name of zakat,” a neighbour said.
Television pictures showed scenes of devastation, with hundreds of blood-spattered sandals lying at the factory gate.
Ambia Begum, 50, who had come to collect charity, alleged that workers of businessman’s factory had swooped on them with batons.
“They beat us up severely,” The Daily Star quoted Ambia as saying. The ages of the women killed in the stampede range from 10-65 years.
The doctors at the hospital said that the death toll could rise as many are critically injured. The reason of deaths was suffocation and stampede, they said.
Police have detained eight people, including Shamim.
President Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Speaker of the parliament Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury expressed their sympathy to the victims’ family members.
Three investigation committees have been formed to probe into the incident. Two of the investigation committees are set up by the police, whereas the third one has been formed by the district administration.
“We have asked our committee to submit its report in the next three days,” a district administration official said.
During Ramzan, it is mandatory for Muslims to donate money, food and clothes to the poor as charity. Around 40 people were killed in a similar stampede at a garment factory in the northern city Tangail in 2002.
Image: The stampede took place early in the morning when people gathered in front of the house of Shamim Talukder to receive free gifts and clothes and tried to force their way in.