Banshkhali death toll rises to 7: Writ seeks judicial inquiry

23 April 2021

Staff Reporter :
Another worker died of the Banshkhali power plant incident in Chattogram on Thursday at Chittagong Medical College and Hospital on Wednesday night, raising the death toll to 6.
The deceased was identified as Shimul Ahmed (23), son of Abdul Malek from Srimangal in Moulvibazar district.
Shimul sustained bullet injuries in his stomach during the clash erupted at the coal fired power plant in Banshkhali upazila on Saturday.  
Zahirul Haque Bhuiya, in-charge of Chittagong Medical College and Hospital police outpost, said the worker sustained bullet injuries in his abdomen and was undergoing treatment at the ICU of the hospital since Saturday.
"Shimul succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday night. His body has been kept at the mortuary of the hospital," he said.
Hawkers Union formed human chain for justice: Bangladesh Hawkers' Union on Thursday formed a human chain, demanding justice for the workers of an under-construction coal-fired power plant, who were killed during a clash with police in Banshkhali upazila of Chattogram on April 17.
The hawkers, holding banners, gathered at Paltan intersection in Dhaka around 11:00am.
From Paltan, they went in front of Jatiya Press Club and formed the human chain.
It is learnt that around two lakh hawkers are jobless at present due to the lockdown imposed by the government to prevent transmission of Covid-19. The government allowed factories to run during the lockdown, but hawkers are not allowed to operate their businesses, she said.
Rickshaw-pullers are also facing hardship due to the restrictions, she added.
The hawkers have demanded food and cash assistance from the government.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Sramik Kalyan Federation extended hands to the victims of the incident donating hand cash to the injured workers.
Muhammad Ishaq and SM Lutfor Rahman, Joint-Secretaries of the organization and Former Upazila Chairman of Banshkhali, Principal Jahirul Islam, handed over cash to the injured and under treatment workers at Chattogram Medical College Hospital on Thursday.
The incident erupted on Saturday when the workers started demonstration for pay rise.
At least five workers were shot dead and dozens injured when police opened fire at the protesting workers at the Chinese-backed coal-fired power plant. They were demanding unpaid wages, working hours and alleged discrimination.
Azizul Islam, Banshkhali police chief, said about 2,000 protesters threw rocks and bricks at police, who responded with gunfire.
Four bodies with bullet wounds were taken to the local hospital, doctor said.
The $2.4bn power plant, located 265km southeast of the capital, Dhaka, is one of a series of projects of Chinese investment.
Two cases have been filed against about 2,500 people in connection with Saturday's clash between workers and police on that day.
Rights activists say the plant does not meet environmental impact standards and was built without public consultation. It has been at the centre of other deadly protests in recent years.
Meanwhile,  a writ petition was filed with the High Court on Thursday seeking its directive on the authorities concerned to conduct a judicial enquiry into the killings of seven workers of an under-construction power plant at Chattogram's Banshkhali upazila on April 17.
Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), a leading rights organization, filed the writ petition also requesting the HC to pass an order upon the authorities to ensure security of the rest of the workers of the power plant and to pay Tk two million as initial compensation to the families of the each of the deceased workers.
The organization in its petition prayed to the court to issue a ruling upon the respondents to explain as to why they should not be directed to pay Tk 30 million as compensation to the families of the workers who were killed, and Tk 20 million as compensation to the families of the injured workers.
It also prayed to the court to issue a ruling upon the respondents to explain as to why a criminal case should not be processed against the real culprits of the incident.
ASK's lawyer Syeda Nasrin said that the High Court bench headed by Justice M Enayetur Rahim may hear the petition next week.
The lawyer said earlier she on behalf of the organization had sent a notice demanding appropriate legal action over the killings of five workers of the power plant. As no reply was received the organization filed the writ petition.
Home secretary, law secretary, industries secretary, commerce secretary, inspector general of police and others have been made respondents in the petition.
A total of seven workers of an under-construction coal-fired power plant were killed and at least 21 others injured after a clash with police in Banshkhali upazila of Chattogram on April 17.
The deceased are--- Raihan (20), Rony Hossain (22), Md Rahad (24), Shuvo (23), Mahmud Reza (19), Shimul Ahmed (23) and Raziur Rahman (22).
Workers of the SS Power I Plant, a joint venture involving S Alam Group, alleged that the law enforcers opened fire on their peacefull demonstration arrears and pay hikes. They for said they were supposed to get arrears of one to three months.

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