At least five people were killed and many injured as workers clashed with police at an under-construction power plant, owned by S Alam Group and China-based SEPCO3, in Chattogram's Banshkhali today.
The deceased are- Shuvo, 23, Rahat, 24, Ahmad Reza, 19, Raihan, 17, and Rony Hossain, 22.
"Workers were staging protest over several demands including raising wages and reducing work hours in the morning. On information from the plant authorities, police rushed to spot to control the situation," Banshkhali police station's Inspector (Investigation) Azizul Islam told The Business Standard.
"A clash erupted when workers threw brick-bats and police opened gun fire to bring the situation under control," the police official added.
However, he could not confirm about the death toll.
Confirming the number of death toll so far, Upazila Health Officer Dr Shafiur Rahman Mozumder said, "Twelve more people were referred to different hospitals."
"More than 12 people were taken to Chittagong Medical College Hospital in critical condition with bullet wounds. One of them died here," said Jahir Uddin Bhuiyan, inspector CMCH police outpost.
"There was unrest among the workers for long time over wages, work hours and torture. Police opened fire during a clash with workers today," said DIG Anwar Hossain.
"The problem was with the Chinese company and the workers are working under Chinese contractors. S Alam Group is not involved with clashes. Chinese company has investment in the plant," said Akis Uddin, secretary to S Alam Group Managing Director Masud Alam.
When contacted S Alam Group Executive Director Subrata Kumar Bhowmick said, "The project has started with 70% our investment and 30% Chinese investment. Around 40% construction works have been completed. Around 3,000 workers are working in the project."
Mohammad Faruk, brother of bullet-hit worker Morshed, said, "Workers protested demanding to reduce work hours today. If their demands were undue, authorities could sack them. Police should not have shot them following orders from influential people."
Earlier in 2016, at least four persons were killed and nearly three dozen people injured in another clash between law enforcers and locals over the coal-based power plant sponsored by S Alam Group. Later one more was killed in 2017.
Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad (SKOP) has condemned the police attack and demanded compensation for the victim workers and treatment cost for the injured.
Issuing a joint statement, SKOP leaders also demanded a judicial inquiry into today's incident and punishment of those responsible.