Coalmine villagers clash with police over compensation in Bangladesh

Barapukuria Coal Mine, Agitation postponed after clash between villagers and police.

Police wield clubs on agitating villagers at Barapukuria coalmine in Northern Bangladesh.

The villagers around  Barapukuria coalmine in northern Bangladesh have  postponed their agitation programme  till 22 July after  the local lawmaker  and   state minister for land Mostafizur Rahman made  an assurance  to meet  their  demands.

Meanwhile, at least 20 villagers and 4 members of law enforcement agencies were injured in a clash between and police and the agitating villagers at the coalmine site on Monday (July, 9) noon.

The villagers since June 18 had been continuing a sit-in programme in front of main entrance of Barapukuria coalmine demanding payment  of the entire compensation package as sanctioned by  the  government  for the people affected by  land subsidence  due to mining by Barapukuria Coal Mining Company Ltd (BCMCL).

The villagers  were  angered  by  the incident of gradual  subsiding of   land  around the coalmine  causing  loss  of  their  homesteads and  livelihood.   Around 627 acres  of  land around the  coalmine subsided since May 2006 due to mining of  coal . The villagers started organizing  themselves  and  launched  agitation programme  in 2009 demanding compensation for  the losses of  their  houses,  homestead  and  agrolands.
 
In 2010 November the government approved Tk.190 crore as compensation for the affected people. However, the distribution of the compensation money started on September 22 last year. Since then Tk.120 crore was distributed among the affected people.  The villagers  demanded  full payment  of  the  committed  amount.
 
On June 28 a negotiation meeting between officials of Dinajpur Deputy Commissioner office and leaders of affected people where  the  district  administration offered Tk.24 crore. But the affected people continued to press for payment of   entire amount  of  the remaining  package money.

Police action on agitating villagers at Barapukuria coalmine are in Northern Bangladesh

On Monday, affected villagers gathered in larger number at the mining area since   morning to strengthen their movement and at  one  stage  resorted  to  clash  with  police  as  the  law  enforcers  intercepted  the  agitators.

In the  morning on Monday, about 2500 villagers including male and female brought out a procession from the entrance gate and marched toward residential quarters of  the mine officials and staffs and blocked the gate. The agitating people also blocked the Phulbari-Parbatipur road causing disrupt traffic movement.

After two hours, police intercepted them creating a tense situation in  the  area. After  failing  to  convince  the  agitators  for   removing  their  blockade,  police charged batons on the agitators leaving at least 20 people injured. The villagers also retaliated by pelting brickbats targeting the law enforcing members including police and Rab men. Four  policemen were  hurt  in  the clash.
 
To disperse the agitating villagers, The law enforcing members lobbed tear shells turning the entire area into a battlefield. The villagers alleged that police fired at least 40 tear shells  as the  clash continued till afternoon. During the clash, the agitators burnt 2 motorcycles .
 
 Ibrahim Khalil the convener of  Jibon O Shampad Rakkha Committee, the  organization spearheading  the movement,  said that they have been agitating for payment  of  the remaining portion of  the  compensation package money but authorities   continue  to ignore  their  demand.
 
However,  considering  the  serious  consequence,  the  leaders  of  the  movement  instantly  contacted  their  local  MP and compelled  him  to make  an assure  for  100 percent  payment  of  the government  committed  compensation package by July 22.

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