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6 October, 2019 12:24:01 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 6 October, 2019 10:42:52 AM
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60 hurt as stranded Pakistanis clash with police at Geneva camp

STAFF REPORTER, Dhaka
60 hurt as stranded Pakistanis clash with police at Geneva camp
Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) personnel stand next to the damaged police patrol car vandalized by stranded Pakistani residents, also known as Bihari people, during a clash with security forces at Geneva Camp in Dhaka yesterday. Geneva Camp in Dhaka's Mohammadpur is a colony of stranded Pakistani people who migrated to the then East Pakistan from the Indian state of Bihar during the partition of 1947, and where residents have protested to demand uninterrupted power supply. AFP Photo

At least 60 people, including law enforcers, were injured when agitating stranded Pakistanis, locally known as Bihari people, at the country’s largest camp in Mohammad­pur in Dhaka clashed with law enforcers yesterday. The Biharis, who have been residing at the congested ‘Geneva Camp’ since the end of the Liberation War in 1971, were agitating on the streets to demand uninterrupted power supply. The camp residents alleged that they have been suffering from load-shedding for nine to 10 hours daily for over four months now. The agitators said they did not face such trouble in the past, but now the situation has gone out of control. They added that it has become unbearable for them to stay inside the camp under scorching heat during the day. Moreover, their children, who are making preparations for Junior School Certificate and other exams, could not study because of the long absences of electricity.

Some of them complained that they were forced to pass their nights outside on pavements to get some relief from the heat. The camp residents said they never paid any electricity bill as power was being provided by the United Nations. They, however, claimed that they paid Tk. 100 each month to the Stranded Pakistanis General Repatriation Committee (SPGRC) head office inside the camp, but its leaders like Abdul Jabbar Khan and M Shawkat Ali did not provide any facilities to them.

Police said hundreds of Biharis had blocked Shahjahan Road on the west side of the camp around 10am for the second day to demand uninterrupted power supply. Given the situation, local ward councillor Mizan had visited the spot around 12.30pm. But as soon as he reached there, the Biharis engaged in an altercation with him.

Later, when police rushed to the spot to rescue Mizan, a clash erupted between the Biharis and the law enforcers, Anisur Rahman, deputy commissioner (Tejgaon division) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) told the media.

“When the local councillor, Mizan, came to settle the matter, the Biharis beat him up indiscriminately. Police rescued him with injuries. Later, the camp residents attacked police with brickbats and vandalised a police van. Police brought the situation under control by firing rubber bullets and teargas shells,” Anisur Rahman said.

Police charged at the agitators with batons and fired blank shots to disperse them. At least 60 people, including 20 law enforcers, were injured in the clash. The agitators also vandalised a police van and a motorbike, the DC said. On their part, camp residents claimed some 50 people were injured in the clash. They alleged that police had fired teargas canisters inside the camp and detained at least nine Biharis.

Anisur Rahman told the journalists that the law enforcers have brought the situation under control. A police team will be deployed at the camp until the normalcy is restored, he added. Police said the camp residents owed Dhaka Power Distribution Company (DPDC) Tk. 32 crore in outstanding electricity bills. But the camp residents have refused to pay the outstanding money, and this led to yesterday’s incident. Police further said DPCC sometimes

goes for rationing of electricity to realise the huge amount of dues from the camp residents.

The camp residents said there are other camps in the country, but they do not have any problems with electricity. They claimed they had asked the local word councillor to settle the electricity problem, but they did not get any solution for a long time. “We have cardiac patients in our houses, and we suffer a lot due to the power outage for over 9 to 10 hours,” Sima, a resident of Geneva Camp, told The Independent yesterday (Saturday).

“We never pay any electricity bill. We provide Tk. 50 to Tk. 100 to the camp chairman Jabbar Khan and his men, but we don’t get any facilities,” she added. “We earn very little and find it difficult to feed our families. Then how can we afford to pay electricity bills?” she asked.

“When there is no electricity, we spend the night on the pavement to get relief from the heat,” said Maleka, who works as a maid at Mohammadpur. “We have been living at the camp for 48 years. We did not pay any electricity bill,” 70-year-old Nadim said.

MK

 

 

 

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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