Police use teargas, water cannon as workers block highway near DEPZ for arrears
Police fired teargas canisters and used water cannon when workers of two closed factories of Dhaka Export Processing Zones (DEPZ) demonstrated and blocked Nabinagar-Chandra highway in front of the DEPZ demanding their dues.
Around 7:30am, more than 600 workers of Lenny Fashion Ltd and Lenny Apparels Ltd blocked the highway and also vandalised several vehicles, reports our Savar correspondent.
The highway was blocked for about an hour, resulting in 8-km-long traffic congestion on the both sides.
Police beat up the demonstrators and fired teargas canisters, the workers claimed, adding that law enforcers also used water cannon on them.
At least 10 workers were injured during the incident, they claimed.
Contacted, Asaduzzaman, superintendent of police (SP) of Dhaka Industrial Police-1, told The Daily Star that as workers blocked the busy highway, industrial police first tried to convince the workers to free the road.
"As the workers did not cooperate, we had to use water cannon and teargas to bring the situation under control and keep the traffic on the highway moving," he added.
The SP further said a female worker of another factory in DEPZ sustained injury in her head after she hit an electric pole while running away.
Later, she died from the injury at a hospital, the police official said.
The deceased was identified as Jasmine Begum, a swing operator of Goldtex Garments Limited, a subsidiary factory of DEPZ, said the SP.
The workers blocked the road for about 45 minutes, the SP further said.
Contacted, Kamruzzaman, Ashulia Police Station Officer-in-Charge (OC), told The Daily Star that the body had been sent to Dhaka Medical College Hospital for autopsy.
The protesting workers said that in January, the authorities announced closure of their factories without paying any dues. Since then, they have been demonstrating for their arrears. But the authorities are yet to clear the arrears completely.
Contacted, DEPZ's General Manager (GM) Abdus Sobhan told The Daily Star that there were about 6,000 workers in the two factories, which were closed last January. The workers of the two factories have already been paid arrears of Tk 45 crore and the authorities are trying to pay the remaining amounts by selling the two factories, he said.
Factory owner and BEPZA are trying together to sell the factories, the DEPZ's GM said.
"Workers gathered in front of the DEPZ in the morning, giving posts on Facebook. They blocked the road. I went there and tried to convince them but the workers continued to protest. Police later removed the workers from the road," he added.