Subscribe to South Asia Citizens Wire | feeds from sacw.net | @sacw
Home > South Asia Labour Activists Library > India: The police case against Manesar’s automobile plant workers caught in (...)

India: The police case against Manesar’s automobile plant workers caught in a soup of sorts

11 August 2014

print version of this article print version

The Hindu

MANESAR (HARYANA), August 7, 2014

The curious case of the alphabetically accused

Anumeha Yadav

Workers jailed after riots on Maruti’s Manesar plant await court hearing

On Thursday, 147 workers of Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) in Bhondsi jail will be waiting patiently for the decision of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana on bail plea of two of the 147 workers. They have been in jail since two years after manager Awanish Kumar Dev was killed in an instance of rioting in Maruti’s Manesar plant on 18 July 2012. The rioting in July 2012 was preceded by months of strikes by the workers demanding an independent union in 2011 that had caused a loss of over Rs 2500 crores to MSIL, India’s largest automobile manufacturer.

While all 147 workers have been charged on eighteen counts, including rioting charges, and under Section 302 of IPC for murder of Mr Dev, a pattern has emerged from the evidence against the workers. In case of 89 workers, the Haryana police cited the testimonies of only four labour supply contractors hired by the MSIL. Each contractor has testified to witnessing workers indulge in violence such that the names of the workers allegedly seen rioting fall in an alphabetical order.

Rioters seen in alphabetical order

Court documents show witness Virendra alias Rajender Yadav has named 25 workers such that all workers’ names fall in the alphabetical range of A-G. Another witness contractor Yaad Ram testified that he saw 25 workers rioting all of whose names fall in the next range G-P. Witness Ashok Rana names 26 workers who were allegedly rioting whose names range from P-S.The final witness Rakesh of Tirupati Associates who supplied 900 contract workers to MSIL testified to allegedly seeing 13 workers whose names, continuing the alphabetic sequence, are in the range S-Y.

On July 5 in the district court, all four contractors failed to identify any of the 89 workers named by them.

“The management had originally named 52 persons in the FIR, mainly from the union’s body. The police picked up another 100 workers over the next two-three weeks and assigned 89 names alphabetically to the labour contractors with there being no other witnesses. They did not produce any witnesses at all against another 11 workers,” said defence counsel RS Hooda commenting on the evidence against 100 of 147 workers.

Special Public Prosecutor KTS Tulsi declined to comment on this pattern of the testimonies. Witness Virendra alias Rajender Yadav who has named workers with names ranging from A-G told The Hindu that his firm VGR Engineer Pvt. Ltd. supplied 700 workers to the Manesar plant in July 2012, and at present it supplied 600 workers to MSIL’s Gurgaon plant.

Car doors’ recovery

As rioting weapons, the police show they have recovered 139 car door frames and iron rods from workers weeks after the incident. For instance, they show Maruti Suzuki Workers Union’s head Ram Meher was arrested 13 days later on August 1, 2012. The Recovery Memo records that a car door frame over 2 feet in length, with sharp metal planks welded at both ends allegedly used as rioting weapon was found inside his bed in his residence in Ashok Vihar, 25 km from the Manesar plant. Similarly, they show Sarabjeet, the Union’s General Secretary, was arrested on August 1, 2012 and a car door frame recovered from inside Sarabjeet’s bed at his Laxman Vihar house, 22 km from the Maruti plant, was the alleged weapon.

Inside Bhondsi jail, 15 km from Gurgaon, Ram Meher said the pattern was repeated for several workers. “The police say we hid and carried door frames for kilometres, in some instances till another district. How could have we? The police planted these and showed arrests after many of us surrendered,” said Ram Meher.

“The alphabetic order of witness is a matter of probability. It is less probable but not impossible. I cannot comment on other details as I was not the DCP in charge at that time,” said DCP (South) Gurgaon Vivek Sharma.

The District Court in Gurgaon has already rejected the workers’ bail plea thrice, most recently this June. The High Court turned it down last May.

o o o

The Hindu

MANESAR (HARYANA), August 7, 2014

The ABC of labour unrest at Manesar plant

Anumeha Yadav

Families and colleagues of jailed Maruti workers marching to Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s residence in Rohtak on August 3 were stopped by the police.- Photo: Anumeha Yadav

The case against 89 of the 147 workers of Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL), accused of rioting in the company’s Manesar plant on July 18, 2012, could turn out to be an alphabet soup of sorts. The workers are lodged in Haryana’s Bhondsi jail for the past two years in connection with the violent labour unrest that caused the death of Awanish Kumar Dev, a manager at the plant.

The police claim four contractors who supply workers to Maruti witnessed the rioting as they were at the plant at the time. But going by the testimonies of the four witnesses, the alleged rioters ganged up in alphabetical order before going on the rampage.

Court documents show witness Virendra alias Rajender Yadav as having seen 25 workers indulge in arson at the factory, their names falling in the alphabetical range of A-G. Another witness, contractor Yaad Ram, has testified against 25 workers whose names are in G-P category.

A third witness, Ashok Rana, had named 26 workers whose names are in the P-S alphabet range. The last witness, Rakesh of Tirupati Associates, which has supplied 900 contract workers to MSIL, has claimed to have seen 13 workers whose names, continuing the alphabetic sequence, are in the S-Y range.

These four witnesses, however, failed to identify any of the 89 workers named by them in the district court on July 5.

“The (Maruti) management had originally named 52 persons in the FIR, mostly from the workers’ union body. The police picked up another 100 workers over the next two-three weeks and assigned 89 names alphabetically to the labour contractors with there being no other witnesses. They did not produce any witness at all against another 11 workers,” said defence counsel R.S. Hooda commenting on the evidence against 100 of the 147 workers.

The incident on July 18, 2012 was preceded by months of strikes by the workers demanding an independent union in 2011 that had caused a loss of over Rs. 2,500 crore to MSIL, India’s largest automobile manufacturer.

Special Public Prosecutor KTS Tulsi declined to comment on the pattern of the testimonies. Witness Virendra alias Rajender Yadav told The Hindu that his firm VGR Engineer Pvt. Ltd. supplied 700 workers to the Manesar plant in July 2012, and at present, it supplied 600 workers to Maruti’s Gurgaon plant. In all, 147 workers have been charged on 18 counts, including rioting, and under Section 302 of the IPC for murder of Mr. Dev. On Thursday, these workers will be waiting patiently for the decision of Punjab and Haryana High Court on bail pleas moved by two of them.

o o o

SEE ALSO:

India’s “judiciary acts on the agenda of the capitalists”
—says lawyer for Maruti Suzuki workers facing frame-up murder charges

by Deepal Jayasekera and Arun Kumar (8 January 2014)

Rajendra Pathak, the lawyer leading the legal defence of the 148 Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) workers who face frame-up charges of murder and other grave crimes, recently spoke with the World Socialist Web Site about their case. [. . .].

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/01/08/maru-j08.html

o o o

Beyond Prison and Persecution: The Enduring Spirit of Maruti Workers
by Sindhu Menon (Aug 9 2013)
http://www.labourfile.org/NewsDetails.aspx?id=163