PROTEST AT COAL-FIRED POWER PLANT IN BANSHKHALI : 4 villagers killed in firing

Staff Correspondent . Chittagong
Fellows carry an injured man to hospital on Monday after a fierce clash between villagers and law enforcers over setting up a coal-fired power plant at Bashkhali in Chittagong. — New Age photo

Fellows carry an injured man to hospital on Monday after a fierce clash between villagers and law enforcers over setting up a coal-fired power plant at Bashkhali in Chittagong.
— New Age photo

At least four villagers were shot dead and 20 others, including 11 policemen, injured on Monday in a clash between the lawmen and villagers who were demonstrating against a move to construct a coal-fired power plant at Banskhali in Chittagong, police and witnesses said.
Chittagong police superintendent AKM Hafiz Akter confirmed the news of the deaths of villagers identified as two siblings — Murtuza Ali, 40, and Anwar, 32, — Zaker Ahmed, 50, and Zaker, 35.
‘Tension runs very high in the area. Our policemen are trying to recover the bodies of the agitators. We have sent reinforcements to maintain peace there’, he told New Age.
Among the victims, critically injured Zaker Ahmed and Zaker were later in the evening taken to Chittagong Medical Hospital where the attending doctors pronounced them
dead, policemen at the hospital said.
Two other villagers with bullet wounds were admitted to the hospital, they said, adding that the other injured were taken to the local health complex and private clinics.
Police said tension prevailed at the remote village Gondamara since morning as section 144 was imposed there to thwart an attempt to hold a protest rally by local people against the construction of the China-financed coal-fired power plant by local conglomerate S Alam Group.
Police opened fire on the agitators, who attacked the police contingent defying the ban on holding rally at the village, some 30 miles away from Chittagong port city, said Chittagong deputy commissioner Mesbah Uddin.
‘The clash erupted when police came under attack by locals protesting against the move to install the power plant by local company S Alam Group,’ the DC added.
‘At one point, police opened fire to disperse the agitators and to bring the situation under control,’ he also said, informing that 10 to 11 people were wounded with bullet and an Ansar member was injured critically among others.
He said the additional district magistrate Mominur Rashid was asked to investigate the incident and submit the report in seven days.
Witnesses said that the agitators hurled brick-bats and used local weapons during the clash with police.
The agitators also put up barricades on the road as policemen chased and charged them with baton, officials in local administration said.
But police opened fire when the agitators surrounded them, they added.
Local union parishad chairman Arif Ullah said that about 500 villagers joined the protests against the power plant project alleging their lands were grabbed without paying compensation.
‘Our villagers have been continuing protests for the past few weeks and about 30 people were injured in today’s clash,’ Arif said.
Officials of S Alam group could not be contacted for their comments despite repeated calls.
Mobile phone of Saiful Alam Masud, chairman of the group, was found off till filing of this report at 9:40pm.

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