Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Authorities accept 6-point demand of Phulbari protesters, Dinajpur DC says (6th Ld)

By News Editor
Published: 2006-08-29 18:00:00.0 BdST Updated: 2006-08-29 18:00:00.0 BdST

Authorities accepted all demands of the protesters over the Phulbari coalmine issue after hours of hectic negotiation on Wednesday, the area's chief government administrator said.

Advisory: Updated with details

Biplob Rahman

Phulbari, Dinajpur, August 30 (BDNEWS) – Authorities accepted all demands of the protesters over the Phulbari coalmine issue after hours of hectic negotiation on Wednesday, the area's chief government administrator said.

Tahsinur Rahman, Deputy Commissioners of Dinajpur, read out the agreement between the authorities and the protesters in presence of Rajshahi City Mayor Mizanur Raman Minu and State Minister for Food and Disaster Management Asadul Habib Dulu.

But it was not clear till 10:45 pm if the protesters would discontinue their movement from Thursday.

The protesters' six point demands mainly include withdrawal of the Asia Energy from Phulbari, removing all establishments from the site of the planned coal-mining project, compensation to the families of deceased, withdrawal of all cases against the protesters and trial of the responsible for Saturday's killings.

Both the ministers attended the much-expected meeting with the leaders of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Port at Ambari High School in Parbatipur.

Jonaid Saki, a member of the national committee, also confirmed the signing of the agreement.

The meeting began at around 6:30 pm to resolve the crisis that started on Saturday following indiscriminate firing by members of the security agencies.

The violence left at least six people dead and scores wounded. The demonstration was organised to protest against the open-pit coal-mining project, planned by the British firm, Asia Energy.

Anu Mohammad, Member Secretary of the national committee, was representing the protesters along with other central leaders at the meeting, which was postponed twice due to protesters' reluctance about the venue of the meeting. They demanded the meeting must be held at Phulbari.

Meanwhile, tension ran high at Phulbari in Dinajpur district on Wednesday, as the indefinite strike entered into the fourth day.

The violence triggered widespread protests in the country's northern region as well as in other parts of the country, resulting to a dawn-to-dusk general strike across the country.

On Wednesday, thousands of protesters, including many women and children, gathered at Nimtala crossing in Phulbari at around 11 am to press home their demands of total withdrawal of the company from the country.

They burnt an effigy of Energy Advisor Mahmudur Rahman, as he stood behind the causes of the British company, Asia Energy Plc, and accused the protesters of Saturday's violence.

The angry protesters blocked the Dinajpur-Dhaka Highway disrupting communication.

Anu Mohammad told the rally that members of the paramilitary BDR had fired on the agitating protesters in line with the directions of Lutfozzaman Babar and Mahmudur Rahman.

He vowed to continue the movement until and unless the trial of the Saturday's killings is done.

He reiterated his earlier demands for scrapping the deal with the Asia Energy and its expulsion from the country.

He said they had won their primary victory, as the British company had already wrapped up its operation and withdrawn its employees from Phulbari.

Among others, local leaders Khursheed Alam Moti, Rawsan Ahmed Mollah, Syed Saiful Islam Jewel also addressed the rally.

BDNEWS/2155 hrs.
News Link: http://bdnews24.com/politics/2006/08/29/authorities-accept-6-point-demand-of-phulbari-protesters-dinajpur-dc-says-6th-ld