About 7,000 Bangladeshi workers have been put on a two-week leave pending an investigation into unrest that led to the death of a Chinese worker and damaged facilities at a Chinese-financed power plant under construction on the Bay of Bengal.
The workers learned their fate on Saturday during a meeting with Chinese project officials, according to Patuakhali Superintendent of Police Moinul Hasan. While the Bangladeshis began their break on Sunday, the plant’s 2,700 Chinese employees resumed work after the meeting.
“We hope the situation will return to normal soon,” Khaled Mahmood told BenarNews on Monday. Mahmood is chairman of the Bangladesh Power Development Board (PDB).
Hundreds of police were called to the plant last week when a fight between Chinese and Bangladeshi workers left a Chinese worker dead and at least seven others injured.
Violence erupted at the plant after a Bangladeshi worker fell from a terrace, leading to rumors that a Chinese national had pushed him and later tried to cover up the death, a local police official said at the time.
Hasan said 14 Bangladeshis had been arrested and that police expected to arrest more suspects.
“Two cases have been filed in relation to the clash, one for murder of the Chinese worker and another one for vandalism and ransacking,” he told BenarNews.
“We also received information about burglarizing the plant’s property during the clash. We have recovered some looted materials from neighboring villages and we will continue our search to arrest the alleged culprits and to recover the stolen property.”
A University of Dhaka professor of international relationshs said he did not expect the death of the Chinese worker to have a major impact on Bangladesh’s relations with its neighbor.
“But China may ask for reason behind the death of their citizen and definitely will demand justice,” Mohammad Ruhul Amin told BenarNews. “If justice is ensured according to Bangladeshi law, I don’t think China will have any further concerns.”
The 1,320 megawatt-capacity Payra power plant is being built by a Chinese-Bangladesh consortium at a total cost close to U.S. $2 billion, according to the PDB’s Mahmood.
The plant, fueled by imported coal, will begin generating power in by the end of the year and be fully functional by late 2022, according to North-West Power Generation Company Ltd, a consortium partner.