The country's sugar mills are systematically being destroyed as part of foreign conspiracies, alleged Nurul Haque Nur, former vice president of the Dhaka University Central Students' Union.
He made the comment at a human chain organised at the National Press Club by Bangladesh Sramik Adhikar Parishad on Friday afternoon.
At the event, Nur said, "Why should the state-owned sugar mills face losses where the country's private sugar mills are making crores of taka profit year after year? With the help of some people in this country, foreign powers have deliberately pushed the country's sugar mills into losses."
He further said, "We have seen that during the BNP government, the World Bank advised Bangladesh to close the Adamjee Jute Mills. But at that time the World Bank gave a grant to our neighbor India for the jute industry. After 1/11, India finalised a new conspiracy mission in this country. Some agents of India, lying in wait in the administration, are conspiring to destroy the jute and leather industries and sugar mills."
Regarding border killings, Nur said, "We want to tell India that if one more person is killed at the border with Bangladesh, the Indian embassy will be surrounded."
Addressing the government he said, "If hundreds of thousands of sugarcane farmers are robbed of their livelihood by shutting down the sugar mills, and 16,000 workers of those mills are made helpless, then we will wage movement in the streets with the help of students, workers and people of the country."
Muhammad Rashed Khan, acting convener of Chhatra Adhikar Parishad, said, "While 600 sugar mills in India are profitable, why have 16 sugar mills in Bangladesh lost Tk4,000 crore in the last five years? An inner circle of the government wants to destroy the sugar mills of the country forever without repairing them and without subsidising the sugar industry. Their conspiracy to make the sugar industry dependent on foreign countries by destroying the property of the sugar industry worth Tk25,000 crore will be stopped."
Joint Convener of Chhatra Adhikar Parishad Faruk Hasan said, "The government has already stopped stone extraction in Sylhet on the pretext that it pollutes the environment of India and has made eight lakh stone workers unemployed."
"Now if the workers involved in the sugarcane industry are harmed, we will wage the highest movement against it," he warned.
Several hundred activists and leaders working for student, youth and labour rights participated in the programme.
On 1 December this year, the government decided to shut down production at six of the 15 sugar mills under the Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation in a bid to cut its losses.