Police, jute mill workers clash in Khulna | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 05, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:48 AM, April 05, 2019

Police, jute mill workers clash in Khulna

16 injured

The three-day countrywide work abstention of workers of different state-owned jute mills ended yesterday amid violence when police and workers clashed in Khulna, leaving 16 people injured.

Workers from major mills -- including Crescent, Platinum, Khalishpur, Daulatpur, Star, Eastern and Alim Jute Mills -- engaged in the protests to press home their nine-point demand which includes clearing their arrears, clearing gratuity and insurance payments of retired workers and regularising temporary workers.

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They led processions in the city, held rallies and burned tyres.

Jute mill workers also blockaded roads and railways in different parts of the country during their demonstration.

Meanwhile, yesterday's clash broke out when the workers chased a policeman who was trying to take video footage and photographs of demonstrating workers who had blocked the rail line in Natun Rasta around 10:30am, said police and witnesses.

Being chased, the law enforcers took shelter in the nearby Pabla police box. Then, some workers attacked the police box injuring four policemen, claimed Kazi Mostaq Ahmed, officer-in-charge of Daulatpur Police station.

The four injured law enforcers are traffic inspectors Abul Basher, Monir, Raatul and Raihan.

An ambulance which came to take the injured policemen was also attacked.

Contacted, Khulna Metropolitan Additional Deputy Police Commissioner Sheikh Moniruzzaman also claimed that jute mill workers attacked police without any provocation.

Jute Mill Workers' League President Sardar Motahar Uddin, however, denied the allegation and said no worker was involved in the attack on policemen.

Motahar also said they had been invited by the BJMC for a meeting on their demands in Dhaka on Saturday. After reaching a decision the Collective Bargaining Agent (CBA) and Non-CBA Oikya Parishad, the banners under which the workers protested, will arrange a meeting with CBA leaders of 26 state-owned jute mills 

The workers' nine-point demand includes clearing all arrears, implementing the National Wage Scale-2015, clearing payments related to gratuities and insurance claims of retired and deceased workers, reinstating workers who lost jobs during previous workers' demonstrations, regularising temporary workers and authorising the mill authorities to recruit more workers.

Elsewhere in Khulna, workers blockaded the Khulna-Jashore road and other roads in Shonadanga Bus Stand, Noyabati, and Atra since morning. Train movement from Khulna to other routes was also halted for strike.

No long route buses left the district till 12:00pm, said bus operators.

After conclusion of the shutdown, normal traffic resumed in key parts of the city in the afternoon.

Meanwhile in Narsingdi, agitating workers took position blocking the rail routes at Torua Mazar area from 6:00am.

They set fire to the rail tracks and threw brick bats. Later around 11:05am, the workers stopped the Karnafuli Express Train which was going to Chattogram from Dhaka.

Sub-Inspector Firoz Ahmed of Narsingdi Railway Police Outpost said railway police and fire fighters rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control. The train restarted around 11:40am.

In Chattogram, shuttle train services for Chittagong University (CU) remained suspended yesterday following the protests. Workers took position on Chattogram-Rangamati road from early morning.

The workers also brought out processions and staged demonstrations on Oxygen-Muradpur road. They burned tyres on the streets and halted vehicular movement, said Ataur Rahman Khandakar, officer-in-charge of Bayezid Police Station, adding that police rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control.

The demonstration continued till 12:00pm, said Arifur Rahman, president of CBA at Amin Jute Mills, adding they would meet with the chairman of BJMC on Saturday.

[Our correspondents from Khulna, Brahmanbaria and Chattogram contributed to this report.]

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