DHAKA: Bangladesh police said Tuesday they had arrested two more textile workers over the death of a nine-year-old boy who was tortured, apparently as punishment for breaking factory rules.
Sagar Barman’s family say workers at Zubaida Textile Mills forced the hose from an air compressor into his rectum and turned it on, causing internal injuries that later killed him.
Local police chief Ismail Hossain said it appeared the boy — who by law should not have been employed — was being punished for using the device to remove the bits of cotton that stuck to workers at the mill, a banned practice.
“It seems they did it as a kind of punishment to the child,” Hossain told AFP. “They did not realise that it would end so tragically.”
One worker was arrested on Monday and on Tuesday police arrested two more, including a line supervisor suspected of witnessing the incident.
“In all, three people have now been arrested over the murder and will be remanded for questioning,” police inspector Jasim Uddin, who is investigating the case, told AFP.
Zubaida is one of Bangladesh’s largest mills and sells yarn to clothing makers who export their products to top Western brands and retailers.
Police said they were looking for the owner of the factory and its senior managers, who fled after the boy’s death and who face charges of employing hundreds of child labourers.
Officers who raided the factory on Monday rescued 27 child workers, many of them aged under 14, who were paid far less than the minimum wage.
Millions of children are employed to do hazardous factory work in impoverished Bangladesh, even though owners are barred by law from hiring workers under the age of 18.
UNICEF estimates that 4.9 million children aged from five to 14 are working in numerous industries in Bangladesh. But textile mill owners tend to avoid child labour, fearing Western sanctions.
A 13-year-old boy was killed in the same way last August in the southwestern city of Khulna, sparking furious protests. Two men were sentenced to death over that case.
Nationwide demonstrations were also held in July last year over the lynching of a 13-year-old boy who was tied to a pole and beaten to death after he was accused of stealing a bicycle.
Six men were sentenced to death for that killing in the city of Sylhet, which was captured on video and uploaded onto social media. The boy was heard pleading for his life.