Violence, again | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 17, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 17, 2012

Violence, again


Workers of Sinha garments factory clash with police on Dhaka-Sylhet highway after police tried to foil their attempt to block the road. Law enforcers, inset, fire teargas canisters and non-lethal bullets at the workers to disperse them. The workers had been agitating for a few days demanding a raise. Photo: Courtesy

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After a quiet Friday, the garment factory zone of Ashulia yesterday erupted in violence again as thousands of workers demanding pay hike clashed sporadically with law enforcers.
The entire industrial area turned into a battlefield since 8:00am leaving around 100 people, including 10 policemen, injured during the four-hour-long clash. Police fired rubber bullets, used teargas, water cannons of riot trucks and charged truncheons to disperse the agitating workers.
Traffic movement on Dhaka-Tangail highway and Ashulia-Baipail road had been suspended during that time as the workers set up barricades. They also vandalised at least 25 vehicles and several factories.
Meanwhile, workers of Sinha Garments at Kanchpur of Narayanganj staged demonstrations demanding pay hike and clashed with police which left over 50 people, including seven policemen, wounded. Vehicular movement on Dhaka-Sylhet highway had to be suspended for about five hours.
Even though Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association on Thursday threatened to close all factories in Ashulia in the event of violence continuing, workers of several factories began to demonstrate at Zirabo of Ashulia around 8:00am yesterday. Their movement for pay hike had begun on Monday.
Workers of adjacent factories joined in and put barricades on Dhaka-Tangail highway and on Ashulia-Baipail road. The clashes began as police tried to remove the barricades.
The workers fought pitched battles with law-enforcers at Jamgora, Nishchintapur, Shimultola, Baipail, Zirabo, Narasinghapur, Ghoshbagh and nearby places.
Officer-in-Charge Badrul Alam Sheikh of Ashulia Police Station said they had to resort to firing 200 canisters of teargas and 300 non-lethal bullets and truncheon charge. They also used water cannons of riot trucks.
"The workers armed with sticks attacked law enforcers and also pelt us with brickbats leaving many of us injured," the OC said.
Sheikh Rafiqul Islam, additional superintendent of Dhaka District Police, said the owners closed all factories there to avert vandalism and protect their properties.
Sheikh Rafiqul Islam said, "The situation became normal and traffic movement was restored around 1:00pm when the workers left the area.”
Police sources said around 4,000 law enforcers from Industrial police, Dhaka District Police, Armed Police Battalion and Rapid Action Battalion had been deployed in the area.
Sarwar Alam, assistant deputy director (intelligence) of Industrial Police, said "Although many of the factories were opened in the morning, presence of the workers was small…"
Workers of some of the factories of Ha-Meem Group and Sharmin Group at Narasinghapur joined work in the morning as the factory authorities had assured them of meeting their demands. Several hundred police and Rab personnel stood guard so that agitating workers of other factories could not harm them.
Talking to The Daily Star many agitating workers said their demonstrations would continue until their demands were met.
Ashulia police on Friday filed a case against 10 local BNP leaders, including Dewan Moyeen Uddin Biplab, Yiarpur union parishad chairman and local BNP unit president, in connection with provoking the workers into violence.
Other nine are: Kamal Uddin Chowdhury, Sharif Chowdhury, Anwar Hossain Mridha, Mohammad Shafi, Ilias Shahi, Abdul Malek, Abdus Salam, Zillur Rahman Dewan and Anwar Hossain.
The Ashulia OC claimed, "Those people were accused in the case following information from our intelligence. We did not implicate them considering their political identities."
Meanwhile, our Narayanganj correspondent quoting workers of Sinha Garment in Kanchpur said the workers demonstrated to show solidarity with the workers of Ashulia.
However, Mohammad Mahbubul Alam, director of Industrial Police-4 (Adamjee zone) said the workers of Sinha were demanding pay hike for themselves for the last few days as well.
Officer-in-Charge Harun-or-Rashid of Sonargaon Police Station said they fired over 100 rubber bullets and teargas canisters to disperse the agitating workers when they tried to block the Dhaka-Sylhet highway around 10:00am.
Resisted, the workers clashed with the law enforcers but they later moved back into their factory and demonstrated there.

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