Five officials and employees of Globe Biotech Limited were allegedly assaulted by locals when they tried to catch monkeys at Barmi Bazar in Sreepur upazila of Gazipur.
The monkeys were to be used for conducting trials of the Bangavax Covid-19 vaccine.
Globe Pharmaceuticals Ltd Media Consultant Md Anisur Rahman said they went to catch monkeys with government permission. They also caught 10 monkeys from the area. But some unruly locals demanded money for the monkeys and when they did not pay, they physically humiliated them and snatched the monkeys along with the money they had with them.
"We also have footage of these incidents. Legal action will be taken in consultation with the authorities," added Anisur Rahman.
Abul Hashem, president of the Barmi Bazar Traders' Association, said locals in the Barmi area informed him that some people were catching monkeys in the morning. Later he found some monkeys in cages after visiting the spot.
"I wanted to know the reason for catching these monkeys. They said that the Covid-19 vaccine Bangavax made by Globe Pharmaceuticals Limited would be injected into the animals before being pushed into the human body to test its effectiveness. They also said they have permission from the forest department and the concerned ministry to catch the monkeys," said Abul.
He said locals got excited as the officials continued to catch monkeys even after they forbid them to do so. After calming them down, the officials were taken to the local union parishad office. From there, Sreepur police brought them to the police station.
However, Abul Hashem has denied the allegation of physical assualt and snatching of money.
Khandakar Imam Hossain, officer-in-charge of Sreepur Police Station, said, "The officials suddenly started catching monkeys. Locals stopped and humiliated them as they were not informed of the matter."
He said, on information, police rescued the five workers and learned that the officials had approval papers for catching the monkeys.
Later, they were released after checking the no-objection letters of the forest ministry and forest department, said the OC.
Earlier in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak in the country, Globe Biotech Ltd sought and secured the approval of the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) to produce Covid-19 vaccine candidate "Bangavax" to carry out clinical trials.
The conditions included a requirement for monkey trials before human trials are conducted.