A views exchange meeting between two parties at the project site in Banshkhali escalated into violence, killing one and injuring 16 more.
The two groups of villagers supporting and opposing the coal-fired power plant clashed at Abhaittya Ghona under Gondamara union in Banshkhali upazila.
The Bangladesh Navy, local administration and S Alam Group (sponsor of the project) jointly organised the meeting to raise awareness among the villagers about the proposed coal-based power plant. Bangladesh Navy is currently supervising the security of the project site in collaboration with police.
According to local sources, the clash ensued when followers of Liakat Ali and Nurul Mostafa Sangram assembled at the venue of the views exchange meeting.
Liakat Ali, a local BNP leader and convener of the Committee to Protect Homestead and Graveyard, has been leading the anti-coal power plant movement in the area. His rival Nurul Mostafa Sangram, a local Awami League leader, is in favour of the proposed power plant.
[caption id="attachment_44087" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
Hundreds clashed at the project site where they were due for a views exchange meeting Dhaka Tribune
Also Read- Banshkhali locals vow to protect land
Both groups have long been at loggerheads over the construction of the power plant.
The deceased was identified as Mohammad Ali, 35. He succumbed to his injuries at Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH) while undergoing treatment on Wednesday at around 9pm.
Md Jamal, 40, elder brother of the deceased, who sustained critical injuries during the clash, is also undergoing treatment at CMCH.
The siblings were said to be followers of Nurul Mostafa Sangram.
The other injured received primary treatment at local hospitals and clinics. Inspector Jahirul Islam, in-charge of CMCH police outpost confirmed the casualties.
Blaming his rival for the clash, Liakat Ali told the Dhaka Tribune that followers of Nurul Mostafa Sangram swooped down on them without any warning.
“The local administration asked the villagers to join the views exchange meeting. Responding to the call, we joined the meeting along with 30,000 villagers. We placed our previously raised 12-point demand at the meeting. However, some followers of Nurul Mostafa Sangram tried to foil the meeting by attacking us,” claimed Liakat.
[caption id="attachment_44088" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
The clash left one dead and injured 16 Dhaka Tribune
Also Read- 'Scrap Banshkhali project by Saturday'
Kazi Md Chahel Tosturi, Banshkhali UNO, told the Dhaka Tribune that adequate police had been deployed in and around the project site.
“The situation is now under control. The locals are in favour of the power plant. However, some people with vested interests are opposing the construction of the coal-basis power plant,” said the UNO.
Earlier in 2016, an April 4 protest saw at least four protesters killed and 30 more injured by gunshots when the anti-plant agitators gathered on Gondamara School premises in Banshkhali.
On February 16, the government signed a deal allowing the joint venture of S Alam Group and China’s SEPCO-3 Electric Power Construction Corporation and HTG Group to build an ultra supercritical thermal power plant with a net capacity of 1224MW at a cost of $2.4 billion.