Tension is cutting through Chittagong’s Banshkhali with protesters against a coal-based power plant and its supporters refusing to back down as a truce looks distant, agencies report.
A forum styled ‘Residents for Saving Homestead’ has threatened to march wearing shrouds to UNO office and besiege it on Sunday if the cancellation of the plant project at Gondamara is not announced by Saturday evening.
Oppositely, ‘Residents for Development’ has announced a human-chain programme Sunday noon at the same venue. Last Monday, four of those protesting against the plant died in clashes with police and rivals.
Liakat Ali, a local BNP leader who is also leading the protests, announced the protest programme at a rally at the playground of Gondamara primary school on Friday evening. The rally was organised to mourn the four anti-power plant protesters.
S Alam Group is constructing the thermal power plant on 600 acres of land. Addressing the prime minister, Liakat said, “It’s no political agitation; it’s out and out a social movement. There’s still time to act.” He said Gondamara villagers did not use their licenced arms in the Monday clashes because they were peace-loving.
“Enough is enough. Now is the time for resistance,” Liakat said. Locals said the men in the area are not going to the Upazila Sadar fearing arrest following the clashes. Thousands have been charged with attacking and obstructing police in carrying out their duty during Monday’s clashes.
Imranul Haque, president of a Bangladesh Chhatra League faction in Banshkhali, announced the programme in support of the plant. “There will be no problem if their (protesters) demonstrations remain peaceful,” he said, speaking to bdnews24.com.
“But,” he added, “We will prevent any action against the government or the administration.” He termed Liakat the ‘main culprit’ behind the clashes. “The prime minister (Sheikh Hasina) has approved the project in order to resolve the power crisis. So we are supporting it,” Haque said.
S Alam Group has issued a statement claiming the protest is a ‘conspiracy by self-interested groups’. It claimed the 855-acre land for the plant had been bought at a ‘high price’. The company said it will not use ground water for the plant and plant trees on 30 percent of its land.