Two cases have been filed against more than 2,500 people over the Saturday's clash at the Gandamara coal-fired power plant in Chattogram's Banshkhali upazila that left five workers dead.
Police lodged a case against 2,500 unnamed people on allegations of attack and obstructing from performing duties.
While the power plant's coordinator Faruk Ahmed filed another case against 70 people mentioning 22 names alleging vandalism, arson and attack.
Shafiul Karim, officer-in-charge of Banshkhali Police Station confirmed the matter while talking to The Business Standard Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile, non-government human rights organisation Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK) on the day served a legal notice, seeking Tk3 crore as compensation for families of each of the dead protesters killed in police firing at Bashkhali in Chattogram.
The notice also seeks Tk2 crore as compensation for the family of each injured, legal action against those involved in the clash between police and workers; and safety assurance for the families of the victims.
Supreme Court lawyer Syeda Nasreen served the notice on behalf of ASK.
Home secretary, law secretary, industry secretary, commerce secretary and others concerned were made respondents to the notice.
Advocate Md Shahinuzzaman, a prominent member of ASK, told the media that a writ petition will be filed in the High Court if legal action is not taken against those involved [in the killings] within seven days of receiving the notice, and necessary steps are not taken to pay compensation.
Meanwhile, workers claimed that the deadly random police shootings on unarmed workers on Saturday morning took place when police tried to arrest some workers after a failed meeting to resolve the issue.
The workers alleged that the 'police personnel' intentionally set fire to a car at the beginning of the clash. Then random shots were fired at the workers.
However, the police denied the allegations and said they were trying to control the situation.
According to the workers of the power plant, they had been staging demonstrations to press their 12-point demand including reduction of working hours for Iftar and Sehri in the month of Ramadan and payment of their due arrears and allowances before the upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr, the biggest religious festival of the country's Muslim community.
Labourers of the plant alleged that the authorities did not accept any demand. In this situation, on Saturday (April 17) morning, the workers of the plant unanimously refrained from joining the work and started staging demonstrations. At 7:00am, five workers were called for a meeting to resolve the issue, but an hour later, the authorities denied complying with the workers' demands.
The workers were later called for another meeting but refused to go. At that time, police tried to arrest some workers and forcibly take them to police camp, triggering a clash between the two groups.
Kamrul Hasan, who is a shift in-charge at the power plant and was also shot by police, told The Business Standard, "There was no problem with our company. However, the neighbouring Chinese company Zhengjian has about 800 workers. Among them, only 200 got their salaries which triggered a movement among the workers. On Saturday morning, the workers started protesting again. During this time some workers were detained and clashes broke out.
Random shots were fired
Besides the Banashkhali coal power plant protesters shot dead by police, many officers of the plant were also injured.
Eyewitnesses and injured victims alleged that random shots were fired during the clashes. For this reason, in addition to the workers protesting to press their demands, other workers, who were at a safe distance inside their houses, were also injured and killed in the firing.
Engineer Murad Hossain joined the job only one month ago. He was staying in his room during the clash. But a sudden shot shattered the bone of his right hand. Murad Hossain is undergoing treatment at Chattogram Medical College Hospital (CMCH).
"I don't know why I was shot," he told TBS, adding the workers were protesting in the field. I was in my room. Suddenly a bullet hit my right hand."
Similarly, three other officials were shot together from inside a same house near the protest ground. They are shift-in-charge Kamrul Hasan (25), Didar (24) and Azad (30).
Kamrul said, "We were inside the room when I was shot. The bullet hit me in the leg after piercing through the tin-made wall of the house. The same bullet hit Didar in the leg again, after piercing through my leg muscle. Azad was also shot at the same time. In a word, random shots were being fired as if from all sides then."
Qamrul claimed that apart from the police, outsiders also opened fire on the workers during the clash. "We think that to divert the situation, along with the police, outsiders also opened fire on workers. The police were 300 metres away from us where the fighting was going on at Bangla Living area on the plant premises. But we were shot just from outside the house. I was sitting at home and was shot in that condition," he clarified.
Anwarul Haque, head professor of the surgery department at CMCH, said, "Thirteen injured people are being treated in the surgery department. Five of them are in critical condition. All of the injured were shot or splintered. However, it is not possible to say right now whether these shots are from shotguns or what.
Police clashed with workers of the 1320 MW under construction power plant owned by S Alam Group and China-based Sepco Three at East Baraghona area of Gandamara Union of Banshkhali Upazila.
At least five workers were killed in the police firing while at least 30-35 others including police were injured. The deceased were identified as Mahmud Hasan Rahat, 22, son of Farooq Ahmed of Kishoreganj; Roni Hossain, 23, son of Mohammad Aliullah of Chuadanga; Md Raihan, 19, son of Abdul Matin of Noakhali; Md Shuvo, 22, son of Md Nazrul; and Mahmud Reza, 19, son of Abu Siddiqui of East Baraghona in Banshkhali.
Three police constables named Abdul Quader, Yasir Ahmed and Asaduzzaman were also injured in the clash.
Mystery about power plant fire:
Several vehicles were set on fire during the clash at the power plant. Police claimed that most of the workers' demands were accepted by the power plant authorities, but they suddenly became angry and attacked Chinese citizens and police, and set fire to vehicles. This led to bloody clashes.
But the workers claimed that this incident of fire was planned; whose responsibility is now being imposed on the workers.
However, the police alleged that the incident started by throwing brickbats by workers without provocation. Injured by the brickbats, some police members are taking treatment.
Banshkhali Police Station Inspector (Investigation) Azizul Islam said, "The workers were protesting for multiple demands including salary increase. Upon receiving the information from the power station authorities, the police rushed to the spot to control the situation. The clashes started when the workers started throwing bricks. Police fired to bring the situation under control. "
Meanwhile, the police administration thinks that a local 'vested quarter' is behind the involvement of the workers in the bloody conflict at the power plant.
Chittagong Superintendent of Police SM Rashidul Haque said, "Some of the demands of the workers were met and most of them were accepted by the authorities."
"But even after the demands were accepted, the situation was destabilized deliberately by some people. Attempts have been made to attack Chinese workers. Our police members have been attacked. At one point, in order to protect life and property of people, to protect the property of this plant, to protect the lives and property of Chinese citizens, the police took the legal action," he added.
Human Rights Foundation demands judicial investigation
Human Rights Forum Bangladesh (HRFB), meanwhile, strongly condemned the police firing at the workers' protest and demanded that legal action be taken against those involved through judicial investigation. The forum also demanded adequate compensation for the victims.