Teargas, water cannons fired at Oil-Gas Committee’s anti-Rampal rally

A rally of the group fiercely opposed to the construction of a coal-fired power plant at Bagerhat’s Rampal near the Sundarbans has come under police attack.

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 18 Oct 2016, 01:42 PM
Updated : 18 Oct 2016, 03:26 PM

Leaders of the National Committee for the Protection of Oil, Gas and Mineral Resources, Power and Ports were stopped at Mouchak and at the railway crossing at Malibagh in Dhaka on Tuesday.

Police lobbed teargas shells and used water cannons to disperse the rally heading towards the Indian High Commission with an open letter for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Bangladesh recently signed a deal for the 1,300-megawatt thermal power plant with India’s energy conglomerate NTPC Ltd.

The leaders took out the rally under the banner of ‘Oil-Gas Committee’ from the National Press Club and came under police attack twice, said the platform’s Member Secretary Anu Muhammad.

Police used force as the demonstrators tried removing the barricade set up at Malibagh rail crossing, he said.

The convener of the movement claimed that 30 leaders had been injured in the attack.

The committee had planned to submit a letter with facts and data related to their anti-Rampal protests to Modi, said Anu, who is also an academic at Jahangirnagar University.

“However, five of our leaders submitted the letter at the high commission later in the day,” he added.

Ramna police OC Moshiur Rahman said police fired water cannons and a few rounds of teargas shells for "the sake of public security".

“They broke a barricade put up at Mouchak and marched forward. They started throwing brick chips when police tried to stop them,

“Some might have been injured,” he said.

The committee staged a demonstration at the National Press Club premises earlier in the day with the participation of more than 150 leaders of leftist organizations, including Chhatra Federation, Communist Party of Bangladesh, Ganatantrik Bam Morcha (combine of democratic left parties) and Garment Workers' Unity Forum.

“We are submitting the open letter to the Indian prime minister on behalf of Bangladesh as our government has rejected our logical demands time and again,” said Anu.

“We are letting the Indian prime minister know how the coal-based power plant will damage parts of India alongside the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world,” he said.

Despite the protests, the government has stuck to its guns, insisting that the impact on the environment will be minimal with the construction of the thermal power plant.

The committee held the rally as part of its month-long protest programme against the proposed plant.

The committee is scheduled to hold demonstrations and rallies countrywide from Nov 24-26 in line with its pre-announced programme, ‘Cholo Cholo Dhaka Cholo’, for the same cause.