GUJRAT: Nearly 3,000 workers of the Sialkot garments factory, a majority of whom are now on the run to avoid arrest in the brutal murder of their manager, may be rendered jobless as the unit has been closed and time frame for resumption of production cannot be given right now.

Sources close to the owner of the affected factory told Dawn on Saturday that Ijaz Bhatti was in Germany when the incident took place on Friday. He returned to Sialkot on Saturday morning and held meetings with the district police officer and other concerned authorities to discuss the issue.

Those arrested and those on the run face another agony as their families will face financial difficulties. A police official said close circuit television cameras had been installed everywhere in the factory and their footage might help investigators in identifying real culprits.

The garment unit is the leading concern in Sialkot for using latest technology compatible with the Chinese garments industry. It manufactured garments for at least 35 leading brands of clothing across the globe, including Hugo Boss.

As many as 500 workers belonging to Faisalabad, Multan, Sargodha, Vehari and other cities are residing in the factory’s owned labour colony where a hospital is providing them free treatment, free meals and free transport.

Official sources said that foreign nationals belonging to China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea, Sri Lanka and other countries are holding managerial positions in various factories in Sialkot.

Sources said deceased Sri Lankan manager was a gold medalist in textile engineering and one of his brothers was currently working in a textile mills in Faisalabad.

Punjab secretary for human resource and labour Liaqat Ali Chatha also inspected the factory along with officials of the Sialkot labour department on Friday night.

He also held a meeting with the leadership of various labour unions of Sialkot, asking them to keep calm and help police in maintenance law and order.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2021

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