Several buses were set on fire and a police station was attacked as protest by garment factory workers against the new provident fund rules turned violent on the second day of their stir today. Protesters pelted stones at Hebbagodi Police Station and torched seized vehicles parked there, as the spontaneous agitation with no trade union leading it spun out of control.
Police said they had to resort to lathicharge and fire teargas shells to disperse violent protesters. At least two Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation buses and one of Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation have been set on fire, they said.
Incidents of stone-pelting on buses and other vehicles were reported from different parts of the city such as Bannerghatta and Jalahalli cross, as also near the Electronics City, the hub of IT firms.
Traffic jams were reported at various entry and exit points in the city like Hosur Road, which leads to Electronics City and Tumkur Road, which has a large concentration of garment units. City Police Commissioner N S Megharikh said the situation was under control, but there “are some issues” on the city’s outskirts.
“...we are at work, our officers are at the spot, reinforcement has already gone there. The situation is being brought under control,” he said. Police said other workers too have joined garment workers in the protest today.
There are approximately over 12 lakh garment factory workers in Bengaluru, the city police chief said. State DGP Om Prakash said the situation went out of control at Hebbagodi and Jalahalli, where reinforcements had been sent. The situation was being monitored by Additional Commissioner of Police.
He said police did not expect the protest to take a violent turn. “Strict action will be taken against those damaging public property and pelting stones at public,” he said, and appealed to the protesters to hold discussions with the department concerned to resolve the issue.
“The situation is under control. It will come to normal shortly,” he said. Police had resorted to a ‘mild’ lathicharge yesterday to control a ‘mob’ of garment workers who pelted stones injuring four police personnel during the protest, police said.
Workers opposing amendment to Employees Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 have expressed fear that the new rule would take away their right over employer’s contribution portion of provident fund till they attain 58 years.