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91 Maruti workers held for murder, rioting

Ashok Kumar

The police on Thursday arrested 91 workers on charges of murder and rioting a day after a general manager was killed in a violent confrontation between workers and the management at the Maruti Suzuki car plant at Manesar in Haryana. Awinash Kumar Dev, General Manager (Human Resources), died when portions of the factory were set on fire after a worker was allegedly subjected to caste abuse and suspended by a supervisor. Mr. Dev’s charred body was identified by his brother, the police said. Director-General of Police (Haryana) R.S. Dalal, accompanied by senior police officers, visited the plant on Thursday to take stock of the situation. He promised strict action against the culprits. Senior police officers, including Assistant Commissioner of Police (South) Ravinder Tomar and Inspector Om Prakash, were injured when they tried to whisk away the injured to hospital. Trouble broke out on Wednesday morning when a worker, Jiya Lal, was suspended for allegedly slapping a supervisor on the shop floor. The workers resorted to violence and set ablaze portions of the plant late in the evening after the management proposed to defer the reinstatement of the suspended worker till Thursday evening.

A TRAGIC END: Relatives of deceased Awanish Kumar Dev (photo inset), Maruti Suzuki General Manager (HR), who died due to a fire at the Maruti plant on Wednesday night, wait at a Manesar hospital on Thursday to collect the body.
Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union president Ram Meher in a statement issued on Thursday said “the supervisor abused and made casteist remarks against a Dalit worker, which was legitimately protested by fellow workers.” “While talks were on with union leaders, the management allowed its bouncers to attack workers. The gates were closed on the behest of the management and workers were attacked with sharp weapons and arms,” he said. Though the company initially said at least 40 managers and executives were hurt, it later turned out that more than 100 were injured. “More than a hundred of our executives and managers were injured in the attack and taken to hospital. Around 50 of them were discharged after first-aid and the remaining are still under treatment. Eight of them, including two Japanese, are in the intensive care units of different hospitals. The injured have sustained mostly head injuries and orthopaedic injuries,” a Maruti Suzuki India Limited spokesperson said. “We were caught unawares. Suddenly a mob, armed with iron rods and sticks, barged into our room adjoining the conference hall and started beating us black and blue. Some of our colleagues even jumped from some height to reach to the ground floor and escape. It was only after the police reached the spot we could be saved,” said a senior Maruti Suzuki official at Artemis Hospital.