Clashes between supporters of a coal-fired power plant under construction and protesters against it in Chittagong’s Banshkhali Upazila have left at least four persons dead.
At least 19 others, including 11 policemen, were also injured in the incident at Gondamara Union’s Paschim Boroghona that took place around 3pm on Monday, police said.
Residents of the area and local journalists said a number of people were shot dead in the clashes.
Chittagong’s Additional Superintendent of Police (South) Habibur Rahman told about the death of four men identified as Mortuja Ali, 50, Anwar Hossain alias Ankur Ali, 45, Jakir Ahmed, 35, and Md Jaker, 55.
He said the injured policemen included Banshkhali police OC Swapan Kumar Majumder.
Rahman said, “Police were attacked when they tried to disperse the warring groups. They opened fire in self-defence.”
Jakir was declared dead after he was rushed to Chittagong Medical College Hospital.
The situation in the area at Banshkhali has been brought under control, said district police’s Satkania circle ASP AKM Emran Bhuiyan.
The 1320-megawatt coal-based thermal power plant is being jointly built by the S Alam Group and a Chinese company. The land acquisition process for the plant is now underway.
Locals have been protesting against the plant, alleging that S Alam Group was acquiring the lands forcibly without any rehabilitation scheme for the residents of the area.
They claim that salt and shrimp farmers of Gondamara Union will go jobless once the power plant is up and running.
The district’s deputy commissioner has formed a one-man committee to investigate the clashes.
Additional District Magistrate Mominur Rashid told that he was put in charge of the probe on Monday night.
Earlier, witnesses and police said an anti-power plant group of protesters announced a rally on Monday, prompting their rivals to call another rally.
Fearing violence, the Upazila administration then issued Section 144, barring all gatherings in the area, ASP Emran Bhuiyan told.
“After police took position there in the afternoon, the anti-power plant group attacked them. Police tried to leave the area, but the roads were blockaded and another attack was launched on them.”
Bhuiyan claimed some of the attackers had shot at police. “Police then retaliated by firing back. Several including seven policemen and Ansar members were injured in the shooting.”
Upazila Health Officer Dr Md Rezaul Haque said 19 people were admitted to Banshkhali Upazila Health Complex.
Six of them, including an Ansar member, were sent to Chittagong Medical College Hospital, he added.
A local journalist said the anti-power plant group had announced Monday’s protest rally after police arrested seven protesters on Sunday.