Vol. 5 Num 568 Sat. December 31, 2005  
Front Page

Mirpur garment worker lynched for a T-shirt

Security guards and production manager of a garment factory in Mirpur allegedly killed a young garment worker early yesterday for trying to go out of the factory in a new T-shirt, a product worth not more than Tk 60 of the factory.

Co-workers of the victim, Panna, 18, said he had the T-shirt on as he was feeling cold during the graveyard shift. Later when he was going out for breakfast, the security guards of the factory, Titanic Products Ltd, stopped him, they added.

"When he tried to go out, a guard named Habib stopped him and started beating him. After some time, he took him to the second floor, where production manager Shamsu and other guards dragged him to the sewing room. Later the body was found hooked to the ceiling," said Jasim, an eyewitness and worker of the factory.

"Somehow the death has occurred. We will pay the victim's family compensation for the death at work. We will sit down with the BGMEA leaders tomorrow [today] and take necessary steps as per their decision," said Anwar Hossain Manik, managing director of Titanic Products Ltd. He claimed that Titanic has maintained a sterling reputation in the garments sector for the last 15 years.

As the news of Panna's death spread, hundreds of agitated workers gathered in front of the factory.

They said they sweat blood to produce the clothes but cannot wear any of them. If someone wears any and it comes to the notice of the authorities, he has to pay a huge price, as did Panna.

"Can you imagine the situation here? One of our men has lost his life for a T-shirt that costs only about Tk 60," said Rani, a worker of the factory.

Workers of a nearby factory first saw the body hanging from the ceiling in the morning. They rushed to the second floor of the Titanic garments and found Panna dead.

At the sight of the fellow worker's body, the garment workers went berserk. They locked the doors of the factory and beat up security guard Mizan.

As police reached the building, the agitators from inside demanded they [police] immediately arrest Shamsu and the others involved in the beating-up.

Policemen and some worker leaders managed to enter the factory at 12:30pm. But the agitators resisted the police taking away the body until Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) leaders went there and assured them of taking necessary measures to ensure punishment to the culprits. The leaders also announced a compensation of Tk 3 lakh for Panna's family.

The workers alleged that they are often subjected to beatings and abuse.

"They often beat us up. Still we can't leave the job as they always keep a large amount from our wages outstanding. Whenever we protest the misbehaviours, they deduct a substantial amount from our salary," said Marium, a female worker of the factory. Many others standing beside her said the same in a chorus.

"Only three days ago, Shamsu gave a severe beating to a girl at the factory," said another worker.

The workers also alleged that the factory owner has yet to pay them the overtime bill of four months and salary of one month.

The factory authorities denied the allegations. "We don't torture anyone. Had we been doing so, no one would have been working for us," said Anwar Hossain Manik.

"We did not get any formal allegation from anybody that the employer torture the workers. We can take action only if someone lodges a specific complaint," said Abul Kalam Azad, officer-in-charge of Pallabi Police Station.

Police took the body to the morgue at 2:00pm yesterday. The relatives of Panna the same day filed a case with Pallabi Police Station.

Sister of the killed Mirpur worker