Maruti Suzuki declares lockout at Manesar plant

Two days after violence broke out at Maruti Suzuki’s automobile plant in Manesar, Chairman of Maruti Suzuki R C Bhargava Sunday said work would not recommence at the plant until police investigation was complete.

He said that work will resume only after the Management is satisfied with safety and security mechanism for the health and life of the managerial staff.

Bhargava denied shifting the plant to Gujarat.

“There is difference between shifting and expanding. We never said we wanted to shift and move out of Manesar,” said Nakanishi, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer.

Nakanishi said he was “too shocked” at the outbreak of violence, pointing out that Suzuki had a peaceful presence in Indonesia, Pakistan and several other neighbouring countries.

Violence at Maruti Manesar plant broke out on Wednesday after Human Resource team suspended one worker and the workers’ union demanded his reinstatement. While negotiations were on with the senior management, the mob forcibly shut the main gate and prevented managers from leaving the premises after working hours.

Thereafter, armed with iron rods and door beams of cars, the mob spread out in groups in the factory area and targeted supervisors, managers and executives. In simultaneous attacks in different parts of the factory, the mob beat the managers on their head, legs and back, rendering many of their victims bleeding and unconscious. They also ransacked offices, broke glass panes and wantonly damaged property. Finally, they set the offices on fire.

Awanish Kumar Dev, General Manager (HR) at Manesar Plant was burnt to death inside the plant facilities.

His post mortem reports reveal that he was beaten before he was left to die in fire. Dr. Deepak Mathur of Civil Hospital informed that Awanish died of suffocation. At the same time, multiple fractures on both legs reveal he was beaten up before he was left to die in the flaming facility. Due to injuries in his legs, he could not escape the fire and his body kept blazing even after he had died. Several executives, managers and supervisors were brutally attacked and injured, and nearly 100 of them had to be hospitalized of which 24 are still admitted in hospitals such as Artemis, Medanta Medicity, Paras and Columbia Asia.

Dr Vishal Sehgal of Artemis said that "36 injured employees were brought to the hospital till Wednesday night from the Maruti Suzuki plant. Of these, 17 were admitted, while the remaining 19 were discharged after administering first aid. Four more were discharged on Thursday, leaving 13 employees still admitted with us. And they all are fine and stable."

The two Japanese nationals have been identified as 50-year-old Torri and 46-year-old Saijo, who were brought in with head and orthopaedic injuries caused by blunt trauma.

As many as 91 workers were arrested and produced before a local magistrate who remanded them to 14 days’ judicial custody. They have been accused of various charges including rioting with weapons, murder, attempt to murder, unlawful assembly, assault and trespass.

Authorities threatened to press charges of murder and attempted murder against all 3,000 rioting workers at the plant as the mob attack had led to a person’s death.

Fearing the arrest, thousands of Maruti Suzuki workers who lived in the two villages adjoining the IMT Manesar - Dhana and Aliyar - fled overnight.

Bhargava said the violence at the Manesar plant could be compared with tsunami which struck “completely unexpectedly.”

While speculation is rife that caste-based abusive language and discriminatory remarks made by a supervisor triggered the violence, Bhargava ruled this out stating that both the said supervisor and worker belonged to the same caste.

Maruti believes it to be an orchestrated act of mob violence at a time when operations had been normal over the past many months.

He also accused workers’ union of unnecessarily stretching the negotiation between Management and itself in order to demonstrate its false efforts towards resolving issues such as office leave, late coming, incentives etc.

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