Activists of ruling party's student front and police today foiled a cycle rally of green activists campaigning against construction of a power plant near the world's largest mangrove forest - the Sundarbans.
The rally faced it's first bar at Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka, where the programme was supposed to begin, from a human chain formed by Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), the student body of ruling Awami League, around 10:30am, reports our correspondent from the spot.
"Chhatra League and Sundarbans campaigners had simultaneous programmes at Shaheed Minar," Abu Bakr Siddique, officer-in-charge of Shahbagh Police Station, told The Daily Star.
According to an organiser Zakaria Hossain, BCL activists assaulted several activists during rounds of confrontation.
"We condemn such attempts to foil the people's movement," said Prof Anu Muhammad, secretary of National Committee to protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, who was expected to kick the pedal to flag off the rally.
However, Mohammad Imran, general secretary of Dhaka University's Mohsin Hall Chhatra League BCL unit, who insisted they were the general students, said: "We are for development and for the power plant. That's why we are demonstrating."
BREAK AWAY, POLICE BAR AND RED CARD TO RAMPAL
After rounds of confrontation that spanned for around two hours, about a hundred cyclists broke away and made a dash.They broke away from police bar near Dhaka Medical College Hospital and were pursued by a water cannon.
"Their designated route was Azimpur-Dhanmondi. Police tried to stop them because this was not their designated route," said Shahbagh Police Station OC Abu Bakar Siddique.
The demonstrators ended with a protest programme at Jatiya Press Club by showing 'red cards' to the government and the Rampal power plant.Samantha Sharmin, another organiser and a Dhaka University student, alleged that around 25 activists were injured during the bouts of confrontations with police and BCL men.
"They haven't been able to stop us. We have pulled a win over them - in protest and in morality," she told The Daily Star.
The rally was supposed to encircle Dhaka University, Dhanmondi, Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue and end at Jatiya Press Club, Sharmin added.
CYCLE RALLIES IN NARAYANGANJ, CHITTAGONG
About a hundred cyclists rallied in Chittagong city that started out from Sanmar Ocean City Shopping mall and travelled through GEC, Wasa, Tigerpass, New Market, Court Building, Shaheed Minar and DC hill to raise awareness for Sundarbans.
Chittagong unit of national committee to protect natural resources expressed solidarity with the programme, reports our local staff correspondent.
Meanwhile, in Narayanganj too, there has been reports of cycle processions for the Sundarbans.
Despite serious environment concerns, Bangladesh government is going ahead with plans to build Rampal power plant against protest from green and political activists.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has herself tried to assure that there will be no damage inflicted on the Sundarbans. But, a different outlook has come up in deeper research and concerns have been voiced from the Unesco as well.