Home ministry probe fails to identify killersMustafizur Rahman
The committee formed by the home affairs ministry to investigate the murder of garment workers’ leader Aminul Islam has failed to identify the persons responsible terming the incident ‘mysterious’.
The probe body, however, said that Aminul, an organiser of Bangladesh Centre for Workers’ Solidarity, was killed by a ‘vested quarter’.
‘We could not gather credible evidence to identify the perpetrators, but have identified some areas of suspicion,’ head of the committee Moin Uddin Khandoker told New Age after submitting the probe report to the senior secretary of the home affairs ministry on Tuesday.
He said that the probe report had recommended further inquiry into the killing, which remained ‘shrouded in mystery’, to identify the killers.
The government formed the four-member committee led by the home ministry additional secretary Moin Uddin Khandoker on April 16 and asked it to ascertain the motive and identify the persons responsible for the ‘sudden and mysterious’ death of Aminul in 15 days amid pressure from rights organisations at home and abroad.
The deadline for completing the investigation was later extended by another 15 days.
A member on the committee said Aminul, 40, was facing a number cases relating to labour unrest in the apparel industry and he was earlier detained several times by intelligence agencies.
Registration of the Bangladesh Centre for Workers’ Solidarity, which provides support to RMG workers, was cancelled in 2010, according to findings of the probe.
The probe body, which included a joint secretary of the home ministry, superintendent of police in Tangail and a director of Industrial Police, said that it was not possible to ascertain the reason and identify the persons behind such a ‘mysterious’ incident in a short time.
The report suggested handover of the task of investigation to the Criminal Investigation Department or a similar agency from the local police in Tangail as Aminul’s work station was at Ashulia, his residence at Kaliakoir of Gazipur and his body was found in Tangail. A case was filed with Ghatail police where his body was found on April 5.
Aminul Islam, also a leader of Bangladesh Garments and Industrial Workers Federation, was reportedly abducted from Ashulia on the outskirts of Dhaka on April 4. Police on the following day recovered his body from a ditch at Ghatail, some 60km north of Dhaka.
The body of Aminul who was a leading organiser of garment workers’ wage-hike movement in 2010 bore several marks of torture.
The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who visited Dhaka in May 5-6, said here that Bangladesh should address the labour problems in the garment sector so that big foreign manufacturers did not shy away from investing in the industry.
Referring to the murder of the labour leader, Hillary called for an independent investigation into his killing saying that the perpetrators should be brought to justice ‘because, certainly, his [Aminul’s] family and friends deserve answers about what happened to him.’
A dozen of international associations, including American Apparel and Footwear Association, Business Social Compliance Initiative, Foreign Trade Association and United States Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel have demanded an independent probe into the murder.
They jointly issued a letter to the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, on April 18 expressing their concerns and also seeking a proper investigation into the incident.
‘The apparent circumstances leading up to and surrounding Mr Islam’s death could be perceived to be part of a deliberate campaign to repress efforts to raise and address issues related to unsatisfactory working conditions,’ said the letter.
Bangladesh is home to more than 5,000 factories exporting garments to both Europe and America.
The country’s garment industry has emerged as the world’s second largest in three decades, exporting apparel worth $19 billion in 2011. About 3.8 million workers, most of them women, are engaged in the garment sector.
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