At least 100 people were injured, more than 200 apparel factories closed for the day and more than 50 factories were vandalised as the police and the workers clashed at Ashulia of Savar on the outskirts of the capital on Saturday.
Kamrun Nahar, 30, an operator who worked at an Opex Group factory, was run over by a bus at Jamgara when she was running away not to get caught in the clashes as the police chased the workers on demonstrations, said Industrial Police inspector Mokhlesur Rahman said.
Kamrun Nahar’s husband Abdur Rahim later filed a case with the Ashulia police in connection with the death.
The clashes began at Ha-Meem Group factories over a rumour that a Ha-Meem Group official had beaten a worker to death on Thursday.
Traffic on the Dhaka–Tangail Highway had been suspended for three hours and a half as the workers took to the streets at 8:30am.
The police fired teargas shells and rubber bullets to contain the situation.
Witnesses and the police said that hundreds of workers of the Ha-Meem Group had started rallying inside the factory at Narasinghapur of Ashulia around 8:00am over the rumour that an official had beaten to death Salman Rahman, a store keeper of a Ha-Meem Group factory, Sakib Poly and Packaging Ltd, and hid the body.
The police said that Salman had quarreled with Mofakkharul Islam, a director of the Ha-Meem Group, on Thursday evening when he asked Salman not to talk on mobile at work.
At one point, the director beat up Salman and handed him over to the police, they said.
As the workers found him at work Saturday morning, the rumour spread that he had died of the torture, the police said.
The workers took to the streets and called workers of other factories to join them. All the factories of the group — That’s It Sports Wear Ltd, Artistic Design Ltd, That’s It Knit Ltd, Apparel Gallery Ltd, Sakib Poly and Packaging Ltd, Express Washing and Dyeing Ltd at Banglabazar and Narashinghapur, joined the demonstrations.
Thousands of workers attacked the law enforcers and the lawmen charged at the workers with truncheons, triggering the clash in which more than 100 people were injured.
The injured included police constable Mahbubur Rahman, Saydul Islam, Mafizur Rahman, journalists Mozaffar Hosen Joy, Somoy TV reporter of Savar, Apu Ohab, Desh TV reporter of Savar, Omar Faruq, Banglanews24.com correspondent of Savar and two others.
The workers also snatched the cameras from the journalists, the journalists said.
Fearing agitation, 200 factories in the areas in the morning were declared closed for the day to head off any trouble. The workers then came down on the streets and kept rallying.
Rafiqul Islam Sheikh, additional superintendent of police of Dhaka, said that they would take steps against the people responsible for the incident.
The said that the police had arrested six people for their suspected involvement in the incident.
The police official claimed that the injured in the clashes had included 10 policemen. Among the other injured, one was hit by a rubber bullet fired by the police, witnesses said.
Faizul Kabir, deputy director of the Industrial Police, said that the police had fired teargas shells and rubber bullets to contain the situation.
Mohammad Ali Mandal, executive director of the factory, told New Age that the workers had set fire to a container truck and looted some readymade garments during clashes.
The workers also set some rooms on fire and vandalised sweater machines. He said that a preliminary estimation had put the damage to about Tk 10 crore.
He said that at one point some people had attacked the factory with sharp weapons and they were not workers of the factory.
He said that it was a planned incident. ‘We told the workers that we would produce Salman Rahman before them on Sunday but even after this, they rampaged through the factory,’ he said.
Workers, however, declined to make any comments on the incident when New Age approached them.
Witnesses and the police said that at least 50 factories had been damaged, 200 were closed for the day and more than 50 vehicles, 12 of which belong to the Ha-Meem Group, were vandalised.
The arrested are businessman Ali Hosen, Abbas Ali, workers Alamgir, Ekramul, Ripon and shopkeeper Shaheen. They were being interrogated, the police said.
Kamrun Nahar was, meanwhile, run over by a bus at Jamgara when the police chased the workers on demonstrations.
The police and witnesses said that Kamrun was getting away to save herself from the clashes. She was killed after being run over on the highway by a bus that was speeding to steer clear of the clashes.
The additional superintendent of police said that the situation was under control and police deployment had been reinforced to head off trouble.
Some of the workers said that many of their fellows were leaving the area fearing arrest as tension prevailed in the area.
-With New Age input