100 injured in Ishwardi EPZ clash

Over 100 people were injured as workers of two garment factories at Ishwardi Export Processing Zone in Pabna clashed with law enforcers on Sunday.

Police arrested some 75 agitating workers of two Chinese owned factories – Roshita Knitting Wear Ltd and Megha Textile Ltd – from inside the EPZ where the garment workers were demonstrating for increase in their wage since 9:00am.

The fierce clash erupted when policemen attempted to disperse the workers, our correspondent from Pabna reported.

For the past few days, discontent brewed heavily among the workers over the factory authorities’ indifference to their demand of increasing their wages from Tk 100 per sweater to Tk 150, according to the workers.

After the workers started the demonstration on their factory premises at 9:00am Sunday, police stationed inside the EPZ asked them to go back to their works.

When the aggrieved declined to comply, police charged batons on them indiscriminately, claimed Biplob, a worker of Roshita Knitting.

As the violence continued, police in riot gear turned up there and fired rubber bullets to scare away the workers, said witnesses.

Law enforcers fired at least 100 rounds of rubber bullets on the angry crowd and lobbed several canisters of tear gas this time

Before the situation calmed somewhat around 4:00pm, sporadic clashes sent panic among workers of other factories of the EPZ.

Witnesses said many of the injured people were rushed to Ishwardi Health Complex and Pakshey Railway Hospital, while many others were referred to Rajshahi Medical College Hospital, Pabna General Hospital and other health centres and clinics in the area.

Talking to The Daily Star, Officer-in-charge of Ishwardi Police Station Akbar Ali said police were forced to interfere as the demonstrators were creating anarchy.

Earlier on January 30 this year, at least 10 workers were injured in a clash between security guards and labourers of the same Chinese RMG factories protesting layoffs of a factory without a prior notice.
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