Sequel to killing of 2 workers: RMG unit set on fire

June 30, 2009

Hundreds of angry apparel workers set ablaze a 10-storey building of Hameem Group yesterday in protest against at the death of two of their co-workers in Ansar and police firing over the past two days at Ashulia in Savar.
The two garment workers were killed in firing by Ansar and police and about 200 others injured on Saturday and Sunday during demonstration for wage hike.
All machineries and other materials on the ground and the first floors of the 10-storey building that housed a sweater factory were badly burnt. Three buses and a lorry of the factory were also set on fire and destroyed.
The demonstrators also burnt a vehicle of Alpha Group, one of the many export-oriented readymade garment factories at Ashulia.
The protesters, joined by many workers of the Bangladesh Export Processing Zone, at one stage set ablaze the offices of Hameem Group and other garment factories of the same group sprawling over 30 acres of land.
Locals said the demonstrators vandalised the offices and the factories and then set fire with petrol. They saw black smoke billowing into the sky from the burning factories.
On information, a fire fighter unit from the Dhaka Export Processing Zone (EPZ) rushed to the spot at about 12:15pm and went into action to douse the blaze. Police and fire fighters sweated to bring the flames under control by 2:30pm.
Some 200-garment factories at Ashulia remained closed for the last three days in the wake of violence unleashed by the agitated workers
All the offices, educational institutions, markets and garment factories in and around the area also remained closed yesterday as thousands of garment workers took to the streets blocking different roads including Ashulia-Bypile and Nabinagar-Tangail ones.
Talking to newsmen, Hameem Group Executive Director Md Mofakkharul Islam termed the attack a planned conspiracy against them.
He said around 14,000 workers, who were engaged in their garment factories, resisted the demonstrators when they attacked the factories turning the area into a battlefield for about two hours.
Mofakkharul said all the machineries were damaged in the fire set by the rampaging workers from outside.
Superintendent of Police for Dhaka Md Iqbal Bahar said, “We have identified the masterminds behind the incident.”
There were many leaders and outsiders among the attackers, he noted.
Meanwhile, labour minister Eng. Khandaker Mosharaf Hossain yesterday warned that strong action would be taken against those involved in the two-day rampage at Ashulia. Even if the wrong doer is an owner of a garment factory, he too would not be spared, he declared.
He further said that a special law-enforcing agency would be built to resist such untoward incident at the garment factories in future.
A crisis management committee was now reviewing the situation at Ashulia. The government would take necessary action against the agitators after getting the report of the committee, he added.

Courtesy of The New Nation

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