"Six Biharis have been detained and cases will be filed over the attack on police"
Dozens of people were injured on Saturday when residents of Geneva Camp in Dhaka clashed with the police over load shedding in the camp.
"Around 50 demonstrators were injured in the clash" said Showkat Ali, general secretary of the camp.
At least 20 policemen were also injured in the clash, said Anisur Rahman, deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (Tejgaon Division).
Six Biharis have been detained and several cases will be filed over the attack on police, added the deputy commissioner.
The residents of the camp on Saturday blocked roads in the area to protest the frequent electricity outages reportedly caused by Tk31crore in unpaid bills owed to the Dhaka Power Distribution Company, said Anisur Rahman.
Camp residents said that they have been facing excessive load shedding for many days.
Habibur Rahman Mizan, councilor of ward 32 went to inspect the area after hearing that some camp residents had blocked Shahjahan road in Mohammadpur at around 12.30pm.
But he got into an argument with the demonstrators who eventually attacked him.
Law enforcers rushed to the spot to rescue him and bring the situation under control. The demonstrators attacked the law enforcers too and tried to set fire to a police van, forcing the police to retaliate. Police used tear gas, rubber bullets and baton charge to disperse them.
Police raided houses and businesses at Geneva Camp at around 3pm and also fired shots. They beat-up anyone who confronted them. The police finally left the camp half an hour later.
However, some people in civil attire were also seen beating-up people alongside the police. "We are residents of this area and have become fed up with them (Biharis)," said one of these civilians when asked by a reporter of The Business Standard if they are members of the police.
The Biharis said that since they have not paid electricity bills for 40 years, they would not do so now.
The camp residents now get electricity for seven to eight hours a day. They used to get it for 12 hours before, said Showkat Ali, general secretary of the camp.
The electricity connection to the camp has not been cut, said Bikash Dewan, managing director of the Dhaka Power Distribution Company.
The electricity bills of Geneva camp used to be paid by the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief. But after the Biharis got Bangladeshi nationality in 2014, the ministry told camp residents that they would now have to pay the bills themselves. But the camp residents refuse to do so.
Bikash Dewan said: The ministry last paid the bill around two years ago. Since then we have not received any payments for electricity at the camp. We served notice in 2018, and now the electricity dues stand at nearly Tk32 crore.
Moreover, we held a meeting with camp residents one week ago on this issue, but they did not agree to pay the bills. They didn't even want electric meters to be installed in their camp," added Bikash Dewan.