RMG workers go berserk
At least 50 people including five policemen and two journalists were injured in clashes with ready-made garment workers in Siddhirganj of Narayanganj yesterday centring a rumour that a worker was killed the previous night by muggers.
The angry workers also torched a police pick-up van, four motorcycles and a police box as they were chased by law enforcers. The sporadic clashes from noon to 2:30pm halted vehicular movements on Dhaka-Chittagong and Dhaka-Sylhet highways causing huge tailbacks.
During the clashes, police fired over 100 rubber bullets and teargas canisters to disperse the RMG workers. No one was arrested.
The workers were demanding suspension of Officer-in-Charge Kamrul Alam Mollah of Siddhirganj Police Station for, what they claimed, his failure to take proper action against muggers.
Witnesses and police said several hundred workers of Epic Garments in Adamjee EPZ area refused to join work in the morning when a rumour spread that one of their fellow workers was knifed to death by muggers on Saturday night in Siddhirganj.
To press home their demand, the workers asked their fellows at other factories in the EPZ area and blocked Narayanganj-Adamjee-Demra road around 10:00am.
They held a procession around 11:45am and marched towards Shimrail intersection on Dhaka-Chittagong highway suspending traffic movement.
The demonstrators broke in Sinha Garments gate, brought the workers outside and blocked Dhaka-Sylhet highway by burning tyres.
Police went to the spot around 1:30pm and tried to clear the highways which sparked sporadic clashes. The agitating workers set fire to a police pick-up van and four of their motorcycles at Shimrail.
During the clashes, police fired rubber bullets and tear gas shells.
Nearly 50 people were injured during that time. The injured journalists are cameraman of private television channel ETV Robiul Islam and Prothom Alo photojournalist Pappu Bhattacharya. The injured were admitted to different local clinics and hospitals.
Traffic movements on the two highways resumed around 2:30pm.
The agitators claimed that a worker was stabbed to death by muggers in Mijmiji area of Siddhirganj, an allegation refuted by the local police.
Several workers alleged that mugging incidents were increasing day by day in Mijmiji, Notun Moholla, CI Khola and Mojib Bagh areas around the EPZ. In the last few days, 8-10 RMG workers fell victim to muggers.
They claimed that police had relation with the muggers; and so, no stern action was taken against the muggers.
Director of Adamjee Nagar Industrial Police-4 Mahbub Alam said the workers took to the streets over a death rumour. “No such incident took place,” he claimed.