Today is that terrible November 12. The people of Upakul have not forgotten the history of Painavidhu on that day 53 years ago. The day is a day of mourning for the people of Upakul. The cry of the bereaved family. On this day in 1970, there was a terrible cyclone and tidal wave across the entire coast. The cost of not understanding the distress signal No. 10 has to be paid by sacrificing the lives of the coastal residents.
Cattle, poultry were swept away by the strong tidal currents and many animals and birds, crops and trees were damaged. The entire coast was instantly destroyed. Dead bodies are scattered all around. The smell of corpses in the air and the wails of relatives filled the air of the coast. These cyclones and tidal waves flow over Bhola, Patuakhali, Barguna, Noakhali and Chittagong.
Talking to the local eyewitnesses, it is known that November 12, 1970 was Thursday. It was drizzling since morning. Wind picked up in the afternoon. At night, the Meteorological Department started broadcasting the 10th emergency signal. The depression formed over the Bay of Bengal has developed into a hurricane and is likely to cause tidal surges of 20-25 feet in coastal areas. Unfortunately this warning did not reach the ears of the coastal residents. It was the holy month of Ramadan. After eating dinner on Thursday fell asleep. In the middle of the night, everyone is suddenly woken up by the screams of people. The wind is blowing strongly outside. Without blinking an eye, the tidal water is sinking the house and carrying away the furniture at a rapid speed. Everyone scrambles to survive. With the loud sound of breaking houses and trees, the terrible roar of nature seemed as if the apocalypse had begun. Human’s pathetic urge to survive. Some use chan (stir), some use tin, some in tree trunks, some have tried to survive by holding on to what they got at hand. Even this did not save many. Millions of people had to give up their lives in a moment after being swept away by the flood. At the end of the night, nature calms down momentarily. Slowly the water goes down. People are crying all around. The sky becomes heavy with the cry of a mother who has lost her child, the scream of a child who has lost her mother, the sound of a brother who has lost her sister. The proletarians looked at each other’s faces and looked down to find a piece of torn cloth to cover their shame.
Manpura, an isolated island in Bhola district, was the most affected by the catastrophic cyclone and tidal wave of November 12. No embankment or cyclone shelter has been built anywhere in Manpura. The plants were not very tall or thick. More than 30,000 people and cattle of Manpura were washed away by the current in the raging sea due to the 20-25 feet high waves and tides of Sagar Mohana. When nature is calm, one can see corpses and corpses hanging from trees. Where there are corpses and corpses. People are both terrified and overwhelmed by the sight of snakes and humans trying to save life together. Only 8,000 lost relatives survived in Manpura.
The news of the death of lakhs of people in Bhola district and the painful story of the coastal town of Londbhand in the wake of the cyclone came to the capital after three or four days through the then daily Purbadesh newspaper. Currently, the editor of Dainik Banglar Kanth published from Bhola. Habibur Rahman was the Bhola district representative of Purbadesh newspaper at that time. After the publication of the news in the newspaper under the title ‘Bhola Jhulache Gahke Gahke Lush’, various organizations along with the administration extended their helping hand. Relief material started arriving gradually. The dropping of supplies from helicopters still stirs the minds of southerners. Many still sigh silently when the discussion of that day comes up. After five days, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman rushed to inquire about the tribal people. He brought relief. Distributed relief to helpless people.
While commemorating the day, Manpura Upazila former freedom fighter commander A. Latif Bhuiyan said, ‘When this day comes, I remember my mother’s words. Mother tried her best to save me from the strong current of the tide and the raging storm and put me in a safe place. In that flood I lost 18 members of my family including my parents, sister. Everyone lost relatives then. The death toll was so high that 10-12 people had to be buried together.’
Mofiza Khatun, a reserved former UP member of Hajir Hat Union, said, ‘When my 5-month-old daughter fell from my lap in the midst of heavy rain and waves, I tried to catch her. If I am swept away from home by the strong current, hold on to the dead cow’s tail to survive. Holding this tail, I floated in the Bay of Bengal for seven days. Then a foreign ship picked me up from the Bay of Bengal 300 miles south of Cox’s Bazar and admitted me to a hospital in Chittagong. I came back to Manpura after a month.
Bibi Noorvanu, late Yashin Bepari’s wife, a prominent paan trader in Hazir Hat Bazaar, said in a speechless voice, ‘That day was Thursday. My mother-in-law goes to sell betel in Naib’s market every day. It was drizzling all day. In the afternoon the sky is covered with clouds. As the evening approached, my husband saw the bad weather and stopped selling drinks and returned home. It will be around nine o’clock at night. After eating we fell asleep with two boys and one girl. In the middle of the night, I suddenly saw water inside the house. The high speed of the tide and the intensity of the wind made a chest water in a moment. We hurriedly got up and went out of the house with two boys and a girl and climbed a tree. My husband holds sons Helal and Belal and I hold daughter Mahima. But the wind on one side and the tide on the other could not hold the children. I still remember the sad memories of that day. When he remembers that, tears start to fall from one corner of his eyes as he can’t hold back his tears even today.
Remembering the death of relatives on November 12, various organizations still offer doa, milad and special prayers in mosques and temples. Today, November 12, is a day of mourning for the people of the southern region. Coastal residents have long been demanding to observe the day as Upakul Day.