• Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020
  • Last Update : 10:26 am

Clashes between RMG workers and police leave one dead, 35 injured in Savar

  • Published at 06:30 pm January 8th, 2019
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Police and RMG workers clash following a demonstration of the latter in Savar on Tuesday, January 8, 2019 Collected

The man has died from a gunshot wound

Clashes between police and workers of at least seven readymade garment (RMG) factories have left a man dead and at least 35 others injured in Savar, on the outskirts of capital Dhaka.

The clashes and running battles had spread mass panic in Savar’s Hemayetpur and Ulail areas in the morning and afternoon, respectively, on Tuesday, said witnesses.

The injured are currently undergoing treatment at Savar Upazila Health Complex, Enam Medical College and Hospital (EMCH), and other local hospitals and clinics.

They include three others, including two workers identified as Md Somesh and Rubia Begum, who were also shot during the clashes.

The third injured, housewife Akhi Begum told the Dhaka Tribune that she got shot on her abdomen by a stray bullet fired by police which came through a first floor window of her home at Hemayetpur during the clashes there in the morning.

The trio and 10 others are undergoing treatment at EMCH, said the hospital’s Operation In-Charge Nasir Uddin.

The man who died from a gunshot wound during the clashes at Ulail was identified as Sumon Mia, 22, by his colleagues at An Lima Textile Ltd factory. Somesh works there too.

Quoting the duty doctors, Savar Upazila Health Complex’s family planning official Dr Amzadul Haque said Sumon died from a gunshot wound on the left side of his chest.

“However, he died while being brought to the hospital. The body has been sent to Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital in Dhaka for autopsy,” Amzadul added.

Ashulia-based Industrial Police 1 unit’s Director Sana Saminur Rahman also confirmed Sumon’s death from bullet injuries, but added that police had used rubber bullets only, apart from charging batons and lobbing teargas shells, to disperse the agitating workers at Ulail.

“Additional police personnel have also been deployed in that area to avoid further tension and untoward situation,” he said.

Tuesday’s clashes in Savar had occurred taking cue from demonstrations of RMG workers over the past two days in Dhaka city, Savar and Gazipur — demanding changes to their new wage structure.

Workers claim they had informed the owners on several occasions about salary discrimination in their new wage structure. But as the owners did not respond to their calls, they took to the streets.

At Ulail, the injured workers said, the workers of a Standard Group factory, situated near the Dhaka-Aricha Highway, had started demonstrating first on the road in front of the factory around 3:30pm.

Neighbouring An Lima factory’s worker Somesh said he and Sumon got shot when police started firing teargas shells and rubber bullets to disperse the agitating workers of the other factory and clear the road.

At least 10 others were also injured during running battles with police at that time.

Sumon was rushed to the Upazila Health Complex around 4pm; but the duty doctors declared him dead on arrival.

25 hurt in Hemayetpur clash

Meanwhile, at least 25 people were injured when police and RMG factory workers clashed in phases at Savar’s Hemayetpur between 8am and 11:30am on Tuesday.

The workers who demonstrated, blockaded the Hemayetpur-Tanner Road and clashed with police were from five RMG factories — including Shams Styling Wears Ltd and TCL-2 of Standard Group.

During the clashes, which left injured on both sides, police had fired teargas shells and rubber bullets to disperse the workers.

Industrial Police official Sana Saminur Rahman said: “We charged batons and fired teargas to disperse the workers after they hurled brickbats at us.”

Regarding the running battles between police and RMG workers in Ashulia’s Kathgora, he said: “We have deployed additional police in that area too to avoid further untoward situation.”

However, Rubia Begum, a worker at one of the Standard Group factories, claimed she had played no part in the clashes and returned home in the morning after the situation worsened.

“Still, police came to the home where I am a tenant after 10am and suddenly opened fire through the window of my room. I was shot on my right leg,” she claimed.

RMG workers had also demonstrated by blockading the road in Mirpur’s Kalshi area in the capital on Tuesday, over the similar demands regarding the newly announced pay structure.

What the workers want

The garment workers claim the monthly wage was hiked to Tk8,000 from Tk5,300 in the seventh grade in line with the gazette the government published last year and the new structure has been effective from December 1.

But wages of the workers in other grades did not go up at the same rate.

Entry-level workers’ salary hike was more than that of their seniors, who have been working for more than seven to eight years. 

Major difference in the salary hike was also seen in the third and fourth grades as their salaries did not increase like that of the entry-level workers, claimed the disgruntled workers.

In all grades, except seventh, only Tk500 was raised in the new pay structure, while an entry-level worker's wage increased by Tk2,700 at one go.