5 killed in Bangladesh after police open fire at Chinese joint venture

  • The workers had been protesting against the authorities since Friday over non-payment of dues and flexibility in work hours to let them perform Islamic rituals during the month of Ramzan.

PUBLISHED ON APR 17, 2021 08:46 PM IST

At least five people were killed and several others left injured in a clash between police and workers on Saturday at a Chinese joint venture coal-fired plant in Banshkhali of Bangladesh’s Chittagong region, said police. The workers had been protesting against the authorities since Friday over non-payment of dues and flexibility in work hours to let them perform Islamic rituals during the month of Ramzan.

The eyewitnesses said that a Chinese supervisor even kicked the workers who were offering Namaz the previous day. The agitated workers attacked the power plant when a meeting between their leaders and the management failed to resolve the crisis. According to the eyewitnesses, the workers set a fire inside the power plant.

Chittagong Range Deputy Inspector General Anwar Hossain said that police were attacked when they tried to intervene, compelling them to open fire on the workers. Banshkhali Police Station OC (investigation) Azizul Islam confirmed that five people died in the clash, adding that six police personnel were also injured. While four people died on the spot, one succumbed to injuries after he was admitted to Chattogram Medical College Hospital.

The five dead workers have been identified as Rony Hossain, Mohammad Rahat, Shuvo, Mahmud Reza, and Raihan.

The under-construction power plant in Banshkhali has been marred with controversy ever since the S. Alam Group, a leading Bangladeshi industrial conglomerate, signed a joint venture agreement with two Chinese companies for the 1224 MW power project. The Chinese companies are working as engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractors for the plant.

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In 2016, four people lost their lives during a clash after locals protested against S. Alam Group’s acquisition of land in the West Boroghona area for plant’s construction. The S. Alam Group paid a penalty of 2 billion Takas to keep the controversial project alive. The plant was scheduled to start supplying electricity to the national grid from November 2019 but controversies surrounding the project have jeopardised the progress.

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