Aug 16, 2009 – Tense situation prevailing in Panchagarh – The Independent

A CORRESPONDENT, PANCHAGARH – A tense situation following face to face position taken by general stone workers and stone lifters centering the lifting of stones through dredging machines has been prevailing in Tetulia upazila in the district. The people of the area apprehend demonstration including clashes between the two groups at any movement. The stone workers were to announce programme for movement on August 9. The programme was not announced as the police on August 8 night seized three dredging machines installed in the river Dahuk for lifting stones. The circumstances leading to the tense situation dates back to period of the last four-party alliance government when Asia Trade International started lifting stones from the river Dahuk at Shahbahan area in Tetulia upazila through setting up over 100 dredging machines. During the time, agitated stone workers damaged dredging machines set up in the river. This led to a clash which left a good number of people of both the groups injured. The stone workers who were to go for a movement suspended programme for it as the district and the police administration assured the stone workers of stopping lifting stones through dredging machines.
At the same time, a division bench of the High Court following a writ petition filed by the district administration imposed an injunction on lifting stones. Asia Trade International filed an appeal with the Supreme Court challenging the injunction of the High Court. The Appellate Division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising the chief justice issued an order prohibiting the lifting of stones through heavy machines. In recent times, the stone lifting gang has become active in lifting stones through illegally setting up dredging machines in the river under the very nose of the law enforcers. Three dredging machines were used in lifting stone from the river at Lohakachi area on August 8. The work for lifting stones was suspended when newsmen rushed to the spot. The stone lifting workers told the newsmen that the dredging machines belonging to Belal Hossain, Foijul and Islam Member of the area had been used in lifting stones from the river for the last few days. On August 9, the workers prepared to announce a programme for movement. They postponed the announcement of the programme as the district administration took up necessary steps, including seizure of dredging machines. Police said a team of Tetulia thana police led by executive magistrates Abdullah-Al Khairum and Shahed Parvez and additional police force from Panchagarh seized three dredging machines set up in the river Dahuk at Luhakachi area under Shahbahan Union on August 8. Police seized 18 drums from the dockyard made with drums for setting dredging machines. Meanwhile, the machine operators grew furious on upazila chairman Mukatarul Huq Muktar for his activities against the use of dredging machines for lifting stones. They equipped with country weapons took position at Shalbahan road to make an attack on the upazila chairman. The stone workers also took position there to resist the attack thus leading to the tense situation.


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