Workers rally at Ashulia againOur Correspondent . Savar
Apparel workers went on demonstrations in the Ashulia industrial zone for the sixth day on Sunday, protesting at the closure of factories and demanding pay hike.
At least 30 people, including policemen, were injured and 10 vehicles were vandalised in the clashes that halted traffic on the Dhaka–Tangail Highway from Ashulia Bazar to the Baipile crossing for about three hours.
In the morning, several thousand workers gathered in front of their factory, a day after owners had closed more than 300 apparel units at Ashulia amid labour unrest.
The violence broke out about 8:30am when the workers took to the streets and stopped traffic in places of the road stretch.
Clashes began about 9:00am when the lawmen were trying to disperse the workers from the road stretch.
The workers then clashed with the law enforcers at Ghoshbag, Nishchintapur, Narasinghapur, Jirabo, Jamgora,Gazirchar and Shimultola.
The protesters vandalised about 10 vehicles and pelted law enforcers with stones while the lawmen fired about 50 rounds of rubber bullets and about 35 teargas shells and charged at them workers with truncheons.
The situation became normal and traffic movement was restored about 11:00am when the workers
left the area, said Fayezul Kabir, deputy director of the Ashulia zone industrial police.
The police then went to different workers’ messes and houses and beat up several people. The police also beat ordinary people who were in roadside shops or went to work in the place.
Some workers claimed that the police had raided several messes early Sunday to create a panic.
They also said that they wanted that the new wage scale should be implemented and the authorities should immediately reopen the apparel factories.
A large number of law enforcers had been on guards around the factories from the morning.
Most of the factories in the Ashulia industrial zone kept their production suspended for the six days as the workers had been rallying since Monday demanding a pay hike.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association on Saturday threatened to close all the apparel factories across the country unless measures were taken against the people responsible for the unrest and security was ensured for the industries.
The police, meanwhile, filed a case against several hundred people in connection with the demonstrations of apparel workers.
Ashulia police subinspector Hafizur Rahman filed the case on Saturday night against the workers on charges of blocking the road stretch, assaulting the lawmen and carrying out vandalism, the police said.
Fourteen people, all of whom are leaders and activists of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its front organisations, were named accused in the case along with several hundred other unnamed people.
Hafizur Rahman said that they could not arrest anyone till 7:00pm on Sunday.
The New Age correspondent in Narayanganj reported that a case had also been filed against a thousand workers of Sinha Readymade Garments Factory on charge of rampaging through Kachpur on June 16.
Industrial police subinspector Yousuf Bhuiyan filed the case with the Sonargaon police on Saturday night.
The Sinha Group announced a closure of the factory for two days. The police said that police deployment had been reinforced to head off any trouble. Almost forty thousand workers are employed in Sinha Textile and its sister concerns.
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