Hundreds of garments workers set fire to wooden structures on the highway blocking vehicular movement near Gazipur intersection on Monday morning. They have been demonstrating for salary hike forcing owners of factories in Gazipur and Savar to shut down their installations for the last several days. Photo: Rashed Shumon
The apparel workers, demonstrating for salary hike, attacked an Ansar camp in Joydevpur upazila of Gazipur and looted firearms and ammunition as the agitation continued for third consecutive day Monday.
Four Ansar members including a commander were injured in the attack. They are now undergoing treatment at a hospital in Uttara of the capital.
The unrest in apparel sector, which stemmed from the workers' demand for fixing minimum monthly salary to Tk 8,000, erupted in different parts of Dhaka, Gazipur and Savar in the morning.
At least 135 more people including six police personnel were injured as the aggrieved workers engaged in sporadic clashes with law enforcers in Gazipur and Savar, on the outskirts of the capital.
The authorities of almost all the readymade garment factories out of over 1,000 in Gazipur decided to suspend production at their units for Monday having suffered from the unrest, said Mosharraf Hossain, assistant superintendent of Gazipur Industrial Police.
Most of the garment units in Tejgaon industrial zone also remained closed for Monday to avoid further vandalism. Our correspondent reports that there are nearly 15 RMG units in Tejgaon.
The incident of chase and counter-chase was also reported from the unrest-torn areas including Tejgaon industrial area of the capital, reported our correspondents and media reports.
In Tejgaon, the workers also torched two microbuses and a motorcycle.
The road communications on Dhaka-Mymensingh and Dhaka-Aricha highways remained suspended for nearly four hours from the morning as the apparel workers put barricades at different points in Tongi upazila in Gazipur and in Savar. They also damaged at least 115 vehicles on the highways.
The marauding workers also vandalised at least six RMG units on Dhaka-Tangail highway at Konabari in Gazipur and several in Savar.
Apparel workers vandalised an Ansar camp in Bhogra By-pass area of Joydevpur upazila in Gazipur and looted eight rifles and 135 bullets. Later, Ansar men recovered the arms, but the ammunition is yet to be found. Photo: Star
The workers of three garment factories attacked an Ansar camp in Bhogra By-pass area of Joydevpur upazila around 8:30am and looted eight rifles and 135 bullets, leaving four Ansar member injured.
Later, the unruly workers set fire to four of the arms on the camp ground.
After the attackers left the scene, the Ansar men doused the fire and recovered the burnt firearms.
They also recovered the rest four rifles searching the roadside shrubs and bushes, reported our Gazipur correspondent quoting Noor Mohammad, Ansar and Village Defence Party (VDP) officer of Gazipur Sadar upazila.
The bullets however remain missing till filing the report around 2:00pm, he said.
The workers of Rose Knitting and Sumon Textile Limited went to an adjacent RMG unit–Colosus Apparel Limited–and asked their fellowmen to come out of their factory after 8:00am.
As the workers of the factory came out of their factory, they jointly attacked the nearby Ansar camp with sticks and bamboo and looted the rifles and bullets.
Apan Mollah, 40, commander of the camp, and three of his colleagues–Alamgir Hossain, 28, Mahalam, 23, and Abu Raihan were injured in the attack.
On the other hand, during their protest in different areas of Gazipur, the marauding workers vandalised at least 100 vehicles, said Iqbal Hossain, sergeant of Naojor Highway Police.
The workers resorted to vandalism at Chandona, Bhogra, Bason, Borobari, Pagarh on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway and Konabari on Dhaka-Tangail highway during their demonstration, the police sergeant added.
The road communication on both the highways remained suspended for nearly four hours as the workers put barricades at different points in Tongi and Sadar upazilas of Gazipur.
At one stage, the law enforcers charged batons and fired teargas shells, rubber bullets and gunshots on the agitating workers in a bid to free the highway, leaving more than 100 workers injured, said Moniruzzaman, a sub-inspector (SI) of Tongi Police Station.
During the demonstration a huge traffic jam occurred on the both sides of the highway, the police official said.
The transport movement resumed when police managed to free the highway around 12:30pm.
Seventeen of the injured were hit by bullets and was taken to Tongi Upazila Health Complex, said Mahbubur Rahman, duty doctor of the health complex.
Later, 12 bullet-hit victims were shifted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital as their condition deteriorated, he said.
The violence started around 8:30am when over 10,000 workers of different garments factories equipped with sticks and bamboo gathered on the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway in Tongi, said the SI.
Earlier, the marauding workers set fire to a roadside shed for Ansar at Chandona in Sadar upazila.
In another development, the agitating workers clashed with law enforcers on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway at Borobari in Gazipur Sadar upazila, said the assistant superintendent of Gazipur Industrial Police.
After 15 minutes, police managed to dispers the unruly workers, firing teargas shells, the ASP said.
Another group of workers vandalised at least six RMG units including Tushuka Fashion Limited on Dhaka-Tangail highway at Konabari in Sadar upazila in the morning, said a SI of Mouchak police outpost.
The demonstration ensued around 9:30am in Tejgaon industrial zone when 1,000 workers of several factories took position at Nabisco industrial area.
The agitating workers then hurled brick chips at the roadside factories, breaking a close circuit camera of Ha-Meem Group unit.
They also torched two microbuses and a motorcycle parked in front of Ha-Meem Group factory gate, worker of the factory told The Daily Star, seeking anonymity.
The authorities of almost all the garment factories in the industrial belt shut the production of their units for Monday fearing further vandalism.
The situation aggravated around 10:30am when the workers gathered in Tejgaon-Gulshan Link Road and vandalised at least four vehicles, locals said.
Traffic came to a halt on the road for one hour and its adjacent areas during the protest.
On information, police rushed to the spot and fired 20 rounds from shotgun and lobbed seven to eight of teargas shells to bring the situation under control, said Mohammad Moniruzzaman, officer in-charge of Tejgaon Industrial Area Police Station.
At least 35 people including six policemen were injured during sporadic clashes between garment workers and law enforcers at Karnapara, Ulail and Savar Bus Stand areas on Dhaka-Aricha highway.
The violence in Karnapara and Ulail erupted around 9:30am as police tried to disperse over 4,000 workers of different garment units from the highway while they were demonstrating there, halting vehicular movement.
Facing police resistance, the agitating workers vandalised at least 10 vehicles and several RMG factories there, reports our Savar correspondent quoting witnesses.
At one stage, police had to charge batons and fire several rounds teargas shells and rubber bullets as the workers retaliated with brick chips, leaving at least 20 people including the six police personnel injured, witness said.
The traffic movement however came to normalcy around 11:30am.
The authorities of 10 RMG units in Karnapara and Ulail areas shut their production for Monday following the agitation, said Omar Faruk, a sub-inspector of Savar Industrial Police.
At least six police personnel sustained minor injuries during the clashes, he added.
In another incident, at least 15 people were injured when over 2,000 workers of GK Garments and Savar Textile clashed with police at Savar Bus Stand area around noon, the police official further said.
The clash started when the workers started to hurl brick chips at police forcing the latter to reiterate with truncheon.
The vehicular movement on the Dhaka-Aricha highway remained suspended during the one and a half hours clash.
The agitating workers also vandalised at least five buses on the highway.
The authorities of the two factories shut their production for today due to the agitation, industrial police said.