Dhaka: Bangladesh police Monday arrested a spinning mill worker for allegedly torturing a nine-year-old boy to death with an air compressor, the second such incident in less than a year, officers said.
Sagar Barman died of internal injuries in a Dhaka hospital late on Sunday after his family alleges eight workers were involved in forcing the compressor into the boy`s rectum and turning on the machine.
The boy also worked at the Zubaida Textile Mills in Rupganj town, just south of the capital, one of millions of child labourers in impoverished Bangladesh, many 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 told AFP.
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 suspect 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.
The incident comes after a 13-year-old boy was killed in the same way last August in the southwestern city of Khulna, sparking furious protests demanding justice for the child.
Two men have been sentenced to death over that case.
Nationwide demonstrations were also held last July over the lynching of another 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.
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.