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Dhaka Tribune

Police foil marches towards energy ministry

Update : 16 Mar 2014, 07:26 PM

Police set up barbed wire barricades to stop protesters from marching to the energy ministry in the capital yesterday to press the government to revoke a recent decision to increase power tariffs.

As supporters of left-leaning parties started marching towards the ministry housed at the secretariat building, they were stopped by the law enforcers at the nearby National Press Club around 11am, witnesses said.

The protesters then held a rally in front of the police barricade.

The protest was jointly organised by the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), Socialist Party of Bangladesh (SPB), Gono Forum and Nagarik Oikya, a citizens’ organisation.

Following pressure from the Awami League-led alliance government, the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission raised the average retail price of electricity by 6.96% with effect from March 1.

Speaking at the rally, CPB president Mujahidul Islam Selim said they would go for tougher movement if the government did not cancel its decision to increase power tariffs.

The protesters also demanded renovating state-owned power plants and scrapping contracts for costly quick-rental systems to supply electricity.

Selim announced that the parties would hold demonstrations in front of district power offices in support of their demands.

SPB leader Khalequzzaman, Syed Abu Zafar Ahmed of CPB, Mostafa Mohasin Mantu of Gono Forum and Nagarik Oikya’s Iftekher Ahmed Babu also addressed the rally. 

Meanwhile, the police also stopped activists and leaders of Democratic Left Alliance (DLA), a coalition of eight left-leaning political parties, from marching to the energy ministry around noon yesterday, witnesses said.

When the demonstrators tried to break through the police barricade, the law enforcers forced them to leave the area. At least three protesters were injured in the ensuing melee, party sources claimed. The protesters later held a rally at a nearby street.

Blaming the energy ministry’s wrong policies for the hike in power tariffs, Abdus Satter, coordinator of the alliance, said the people would not pay the increased rates. 

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