Dozens were injured Sunday as police foiled the attempts of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Port to lay siege to the energy ministry, protesting against a recent government decision to hike power tariff.
The additional number of law enforcers guarding the Secretariat, where the ministry is located, also lobbed tear gas shells and charged batons on the leaders and activists of the committee to disperse them from around the secretariat.
Witnesses said the trouble erupted at about 12:15pm when the protestors with a procession started marching towards the ministry concerned through breaking the barbed wire barricade set up by police on the link road beside the National Press Club.
Police prevented the demonstrators from going ahead with strong hands in maintaining smooth law and order in the highly sensitive area.
At one stage of the tussle with the protestors, police started beating them up to avert any further chaos, leaving at least 30 people injured in the action.
Vehicular movements around the Press Club area were suspended for nearly 30 minutes because of the violence, causing severe traffic congestion in the adjacent roads.
Convener of the committee Sheikh Mohammad Shahidullah condemned the police action, saying that the policemen stormed into their peaceful procession and lobbed tear gas shells and charged their men with batons.
"Some 50 of the committee members were hurt in the brutal police attack," he claimed.
He declared soon after the clashes that they would observe demonstration across the country today (Monday) to protest the police atrocity.
Rejecting the allegation raised by the protestors, Deputy Commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police's Ramna Zone, Syed Nurul Islam said the protesters became violent and attempted moving forward breaking the barricade.
"They (demonstrators) were also attacking the on-duty police officials with sticks used for carrying banners, festoons, that has prompted us to retaliate," he said, adding that two rounds of tear gas shells were fired to bring the situation under control.
However, the injured persons were taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital for treatment.
Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) on September 20 raised power tariff by 15 per cent for retail consumers -- mainly the common people, and by 17 per cent at the bulk level applicable for power distribution companies.
With the latest increase, now the average bulk tariff has gone up to Tk 4.70 per kilowatt hour from existing Tk 4.02 while the retail tariff has gone up to Tk 5.75 per unit from Tk 5.