Communal attack upon Jumma laborers took place in Chittagong EPZ area leaving 21 indigenous workers injured

The communal attack upon Jumma labourers by Bengali colleagues has been taken place on 23 August 2013, Friday at Bond Shoes Factory of Chittagong Export Processing Zone (EPZ) located in near Chittagong port. In this attack, 21 indigenous labourers have been injured and 14 labourers among them are severely wounded who have been admitted to Chittagong Medical College hospital and remaining 7 people primarily got treated at Datta Pharmacy.

The occurrence has been started with the argument between the operator of the factory Md. Rohan and the labourer Mr. Puspa Ratan Chakma who belongs to indigenous groups while Mr. Rohan was teaching the work to him. At some points, Mr. Rohan objurgated Mr. Chakma for not being enabled to easily understand the work and the brawl happened between them which turned into the serious incidence. After the end of office hour, Mr. Chakma has been attacked and beaten up by some Bengali people. On the next day, some indigenous workers have informed the incident against the operator to the factory manager which was tried to resolve by one staff of the factory through conversation with both groups but the operator has been absent after the attack. Nobody knows whether the authority of the factory has taken any step against it or not. On same day, while indigenous workers were returning home from the factory, about Bengali people attacked them indiscriminately. The following indigenous workers of Bond Shoes Factory Hostel and Barrister College area were injured in this attack-

1. Bikash Chakma (24) s/o Priyo Jibon Chakma
2. Laxmi Sen Chakma (23) s/o Sumitro Lal Chakma
3. Tohel Chakma (24) s/o Sagar Bhasa Chakma
4. Shuva Ratan Chakma (26) s/o Lalit Kumar Chakma
5. Jagadish Chandra Chakma (27) s/o Nekre Kumar Chakma
6. Jhontu Chakma (25) s/o Chinakar Chakma
7. Bimol Kanti Chakma (23) s/o Shakyo Chakma
8. Kiran Jyoti Chakma (24) s/o Nityanondo Chakma
9. Ponti Dewan (22) s/o Tapas Dewan
10. Nishan Chakma (23) s/o Rumesh Chakma
11. Moni Chakma (23) s/o Probhat Chandra Chakma
12. Pradip Chakma (22) s/o Shanto Sheel Chakma
13. Naresh Chakma (25) s/o Chhanda Patan Chakma
14. Tilak Chakma (26) s/o Abhileshwar Chakma
15. Shantu Chakma (24) s/o Singha Moni Chakma
16. Mithu Chakma (27) s/o Sunil Kanti Chakma
17. Suman Chakma (24) s/o Nayan Chakma
18. Ripon Chakma (24) s/o Karma Bikash Chakma
19. Sohel Chakma (25) s/o Dhananjoy Chakma
20. Ilton Chakma (28) s/o Chintamoni Chakma
21. Tapan Chakma (23) s/o Shadhan Bikash Chakma

The leaders of the Hill Labor Welfare Forum and local people informed to the police station of EPZ and asked for the intervention and assistance regarding the attack. Later police took the 7 injured indigenous labourers away with a van in the name of providing the treatment and detained them in the police station. It was reported that the police station did not allow the victims to talk, to have food and to meet the relatives either, rather they were being fined 100 taka if they talk.

Following this, the indigenous workers called for strike at the workplace to protest against this communal attack. On next 15 August, there has been held a meeting at BEPZA office with the presence of factory owner, Jumma-Bengali worker leaders, and the representative of administration. They came up with following decisions including release of the 7 detained workers by the police.

• The administration of the factory assured that such occurrence would not happen anymore in the future.
• The indigenous labourers who were the absence on 25 August due to strike, the salary would not be deducted from them.
• Full security would be provided to the indigenous workers.
• The owner of the factory would bear the expense of treatment of injured workers as well as the other facilities and the salary should be provided until the cure.
• Indigenous Jumma workers would join the work from 26 August 2013.

In the light of these decisions, indigenous Jumma workers decided to withdraw the strike. There is an objection found that the indigenous workers are still being ambushed by the Bengali miscreants, despite having the assurance of full security from the factory owner and the administration. Except from few factories, some were deducting the salary for the absence in the workplace and the workers were facing harassment in different ways. On 5 September 2013 Hill Labor Welfare Forum along with local people handed in an application to the Divisional Commissioner (DC) of police of Port Zone for the security of the workers.

It is mentionable that the indigenous peoples face lack occupational opportunity in the remote areas of their habitat places, widespread livelihood insecurity, unresolved political issues, widening social injustice, massive eviction from traditional land. So, many of them migrate to the cities as there are many livelihood options available. This is the reasons for the the Jumma youths to work in the EPZs. More than 50 thousand of indigenous labourers work in Chittagong and 15 thousand in Savar, Dhaka. This internal migration of the indigenous people is contributing to their economic advancement but many also face various sorts of discrimination, like communal and wage discrimination, abuse, mental and physical assault etc.