Irregular payment, not giving time for iftar and sehri during Ramadan and an unhealthy living environment were behind the labour unrest which led to a clash between workers and police in the coal-based power plant in Banskhali, Chattogram, investigators have found.
According to two separate investigation reports by the police and the district administration, about 5,000 Bangladeshi workers work at the under-construction SS power plant owned by industrial group S Alam but many of them are not paid on time.
The investigation committees have found evidence that the workers sometimes do not receive their salaries till the 18th of the month.
Besides, the fasting workers were not given time for iftar, sehri and prayers during the month of Ramadan, while the accommodation system for the workers was full of mismanagement, say the reports.
On 17 April, seven people were killed and at least 30 others got injured after the police opened fire on protesting workers at the power plant.
Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Mominur Rahman told The Business Standard on Thursday, "Two investigation committees formed by the police and the district administration to investigate the incident have recently submitted their reports."
Police formed a three-member investigation committee on the day of the incident. The probe panel was led by Additional Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Chattogram Range Zakir Hossain Khan.
He told the Business Standard, "We submitted the report to Deputy Inspector General of Chattogram Md Anwar Hossain on Wednesday. Now he will send the report to the police headquarters. The report has found several reasons for the clash. Besides, nine recommendations have been made to stop such incidents in future."
Zakir Hossain Khan said, "The workers had been protesting to press home a number of demands including paying the wages by the 10th of every month. We found that many times the workers had to wait till the 18th to get the wages. They also objected to their living environment. There were problems with toilets, water supply and drinking water."
He also said that Chinese workers used to show discriminatory attitudes towards Bangladeshi workers. "The Chinese workers did not want to take a break when Bangladesh workers went for iftar or prayers. If Bangladeshi Muslim workers were absent during these times, their working hours were deducted."
Mentioning that a local man named Rashid provoked the clash, Zakir Hossain said, "He interfered in the workers' movement. He also attacked the workers. After that, the situation got out of control and clashes broke out. But it is not still clear who this man was working for."
"There were 12 to 13 policemen at the scene. At first, the police tried to convince the workers. But police fired shotguns when local workers tried to attack Chinese workers," he added.
Additional Superintendent of Police Kabir Ahmed, a member of the investigation committee formed by the district administration, told The Business Standard, "Originally, the workers had some demands. I can't say more than that."
The Business Standard could not reach Additional District Magistrate Sumni Akhter, the head of the district administration investigation committee, despite several attempts.