Police clash with protesters, assault journalists amid anti-Rampal plant strike

Police have assaulted two journalists at Dhaka University amid clashes during a strike called against the Rampal Power Plant.

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 26 Jan 2017, 12:58 PM
Updated : 26 Jan 2017, 02:58 PM

A protester was seen being dragged away by his T-shirt before the journalists were assaulted in front of Shahbagh Police Station around 2pm Thursday.

ATN News correspondent Ehsan Bin Didar and cameraperson Abdul Alim have been admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

An assistant sub-inspector of Shahbagh police was temporarily suspended after the incident, Police Deputy Commissioner (Ramna Division)Maruf Hossain Sardar told bdnews24.com.

Left-leaning groups took out a procession from the campus’s TSC intersection after the strike began at 6am.

Police moved in as the protesters tried to take the march towards Shahbagh. A pitched battle began as police fired tear shells, rubber bullets and used water canon to disband the groups.

The protesters threw brickbats at police.

The National Committee for Protection of Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports

called the eight-hour shutdown in the capital against the project to build the coal-fired power plant near the Sundarbans.

The 1320 MW power plant in Rampal Upazila, a joint India-Bangladesh project, has prompted protests for its proximity to the world's largest mangrove forest.

Asif Mahmud Ove, bdnews24.com’s photojournalist who was at the site, said a

protester climbed on to a water canon truck and began clinging to metal grill protecting the vehicle’s windshield.

“Policemen dragged him down and started hitting him. They also pounced on the protesters who tried to rescue him.”

The journalists were trying to take photographs of the beating, he said. Police

dragged some pickets inside Shahbagh Police Station and the ATN newsmen followed them to the gate.

The two were soon surrounded by policemen who began kicking and punching them.

The two were admitted to DMCH after police set them free, said Noor Safa Julhaz, Head of Content at ATN News.

At the hospital, Alim told reporters police assaulted him while he was holding his camera. “The camera fell to the ground because they hit my hand with the back of a rifle.”

“We have been able to identify ASI Ershad from the footage of the assault,” said Deputy Commissioner Maruf Hossain Sardar.

“He has been temporarily suspended. We are checking if others too are involved."

Shahbagh police OC Abu Bakar Siddique said two protesters were arrested from where the clashes took place.

Two more journalists, Kaler Kantho photographer Sheikh Hasan and Dhaka Tribune’s Mohammad Hossain Opu, were injured in the clash.

Police’s tear shells injured Sheikh Hasan and brickbats thrown by protesters hurt Mohammad Hossain Opu.