A grieving father has not returned to work or put food on the table since his child labour son was brutally killed at a textile factory in Bangladesh where they both worked.
Sagar Chandra Barman, aged just 10-years-old, was killed last month after a high-pressure nozzle was inserted into his rectum and activated at Jobeda Textile Mill, in Rupganj, near South Dhaka, where he worked with his father Ratan Barman.
Ratan, 70, cannot come to terms with the gruesome act of cruelty and cannot return to the work floor where his boy was murdered even though he desperately needs the money.
He said: ‘I have no inclination to go back to work. I don’t want to go to my son’s killing spot. I can’t bare the pain. I feel suffocated. I just feel like crying all the time.
‘I miss him terribly. He helped contribute to our family income. Sagar was the only hope in my life. He was such a compassionate boy. An intelligent boy. He pushed me to go to work if I got lazy sometimes. My motivation in life has vanished since he passed away.’
Ratan said he had no choice but to send Sagar to work at an early age because of the family’s poverty levels.
‘I have not only lost my son but one of the main earners of my family. I feel so alone now.’
Sagar had been working at Jobeda Textile Mill, in Rupganj, near South Dhaka, for the last eight months. Even though the father and son were often working on the same floor in the factory, they often worked in separate corners.
On July 24 they were both working the morning shift and Ratan was working hard when a colleague ran up to him and said his son was injured.
‘He’d been quickly taken to a nearby hospital so I rushed to the hospital,’ Ratan explained. ‘He was crying and is so much pain. The doctors said that his condition was critical. We then took him to Dhaka Medical College for better treatment but within a short time the doctors pronounced him dead.’
Doctors at Dhaka Medical College conducted an autopsy on Sagar’s body.
Dr Akm Shafiuzzaman, Assistant Professor of the Forensic Department, said: ‘The boy had abnormal swelling in his eyes, stomach and rectum. This indicated that air was pumped into his body using a hard object through the rectum.’
Ratan, who earned 3,400 Taka (£33) a month, while Sagar took 3,100 Taka (£30) for eight hours work a day, claimed he and other members of staff were continually beaten and punished by management at the factory for their standard of work.
‘We were often beaten by the managers of the factory for small mistakes.’
There are over 1,000 workers at the factory including around 25 child labourers.
Ratan filed a police complaint with the Rupganj Police Station. Investigating officer Jasim Uddin, at Rupganj Police Station, said Ratan had stated in his statement that members of staff had recently protested against their treatment in the factory and believed team leaders targeted Sagar as a warning.
But the police have since arrested three teenagers who were working at the factory for the death of the boy, claiming it was an accident. The three are currently in custody awaiting trial where they will be tried as juveniles.
The police raided the factory hours after Sagar’s death and rescued a total of 24 child workers.
‘All child workers have been returned to their families but we suspect more children being employed there.’
Child labour is extremely common in Bangladesh even though factories are banned from hiring staff under the age of 18.
According to latest figures by UNICEF, 4.9 million children aged between five and 14 are working in various industries, especially unofficial garment factories in Bangladesh. They are reported to be working harsh conditions for a little pay.
Sagar’s body was cremated last month and last week Ratan drew his and Sagar’s final salary from the factory.
He now spends his days at home, unable to work, with his wife, Labanya Barman, 40, trying to come to terms with their loss.
He said: ‘The pain is immense and the loss is unbearable but I am grateful to those who at least came to inform me about my son. If they had not done so, I would not have seen him alive. I now do not know what to do. Our lives are shattered. I really don’t know what I’ll do to make a living now. I find no enthusiasm. We are poor and our lives simple, how do we get justice? How does life go on?’