More violence feared after workers’ arrest in Ashulia

Policemen have launched hunt against garment workers over the recent violence at a factory in Ashulia, though the unions fear that it might lead to another violent protest in the country’s key apparel industrial area.

Policemen in a raid Thursday morning arrested three workers, following a case filed by the authority of Medlar Apparels Limited at Narsinghapur over the latest violence, which forced the owners to shut the unit for indefinite period.

Union leaders urged the authorities to withdraw all charges against their labourers for resuming production by removing their panic, as they were in hideouts to avert police action.

The problem arose Tuesday when nearly 3,000 workers staged demonstration inside the factory, demanding immediate measures to stop the workers’ repression and suspension of the unit’s five senior employees, which later turned into clashes among the groups, leading to causalities.

“Tension is prevailing among the workers due to the police action. It should be stopped immediately, as it might instigate them towards further violence,” said Amirul Haq Amin, a top union leader.

He urged the RMG owners for adjudging characteristics of the aspirants before appointing them, as many of the workers had become victims at the hands of the wicked officials, prompting them to raise voices against such repression.

Mushrefa Mishu, chief of the Garments Workers Unity Forum, said problems arose in the factory, as its mid-level management had failed to handle the workers successfully.

“The workers of the unit became panicked due to the case and left their homes to avert police harassments,” she said, adding that withdrawal of the charges against the workers can help bring peace in the apparel hub.

“The tension caused by the case might make the workers more violent, which will not be good for the industry,” she feared.

Workers of the factory said policemen picked up three workers – Habibullah, Rajib and Julhas – from the factory gate in the morning.

“Immediately after their arrest many of the workers started leaving the area fearing further police action,” a worker said.

Officer-in-charge of Ashulia Police Station Sirajul Islam confirmed the arrest, saying that they made the arrest following a case against around 250 named and unnamed workers, filed by the factory’s assistant manager (admin) Enamul Haq.

In the case, the plaintiff alleged that the accused workers assaulted some of their senior employees after vandalising a portion of the unit to spread violence in the area.

“We’ll arrest the rest of the troublemaking workers soon to maintain law and order in the area,” he said, adding that they are doing nothing against the workers, but just performing their duties.

The OC informed that they have stepped up security measures in the area, as workers’ protest also took place at a sweater factory at Jamgora in the morning, in which more than 1,500 workers were making demands to increase the rates of each of their manufactured products.

According to a source, workers of Univer Knitting Garments Limited staged the demonstration after leaving their work in protest of the authorities’ move to pay them in line with the previous rates.

The workers claimed that the owners agreed to pay them according to new rates after days of movement last month.

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