Child labourer “tortured to death” at Bangladeshi textile mill

Police in Bangladesh have arrested a textile factory worker for allegedly torturing a nine-year-old boy to death with an air compressor, The Guardian reports.

Sagar Barman, who worked at a spinning mill in Rupganj town, just south of Dhaka, died of internal injuries in a hospital last month.

His family alleges that eight workers were involved in forcing the compressor into the boy’s rectum and turning on the machine.

The boy was one of millions of child labourers in Bangladesh, many of them employed in hazardous industries.

“We have arrested the mill’s assistant administrative officer. We’ve also launched a hunt for others accused including three production managers who were named in the case,” Rupganj police chief Ismail Hossain said.

Hours after the arrest, police also raided the mill, one of the country’s largest, and rescued 27 child workers, many of them aged under 14, Hossain said.

“The children were returned to their families. There are some 4,000 workers in the factory,” he said, adding that police suspected still more children were employed there.

Police were still searching for the mill’s owner and managers who have fled since the boy’s death and face charges of underage employment, he said.

Police inspector Jasim Uddin, who is investigating the death, said senior mill employees had been angry with the boy and his father, who also worked there, for entering a restricted area.

The boy had apparently gone to clean near a compressor at the mill, which supplies yarn to textile factories making clothes for western retailers.

“They inserted a high pressure nozzle through his rectum and turned on the machine. He fell seriously ill immediately and was transferred to a Dhaka hospital where he died hours later,” Hossain said.

Mills and other factories are barred from hiring workers under the age of 18.

But Unicef estimates that 4.9 million children aged from five to 14 are working in numerous industries in Bangladesh, many in hazardous conditions and for little pay.

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