Maruti Suzuki workers’ union to stall work for an hour to protest against court sentencing in 2012 riots case

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NEW DELHI: In a show of solidarity for the workers convicted in the incident of violence in Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar facility in July 2012, the company’s workers’ unions will stall work for an hour on Saturday at all of the company’s production units.

The unions which will stall work include the ones at Maruti Suzuki’s Gurugram facility, Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar facility, Maruti SuzukiBSE 0.70 % Powertrain, Suzuki Motorcycles Kherki Daula, Bellsonica Auto Components and FMI Automotive Components.

Kuldeep Jhangu, general secretary, MUKU, said, “The court today has sentenced 13 workers to life imprisonment and 4 workers for five years. We will stall work for an hour today between 9 pm and 10 pm across all plants to protest against the decision.”

A local court in Gurugram on Saturday sentenced 13 workers to life imprisonment and 4 workers for five years in connection with the murder of a Maruti SuzukiBSE 0.70 % HR manager, Awanish Kumar Dev in the violent riots at the Manesar unit on July 18, 2012. Fourteen more workers accused of rioting would be fines and released. Most workers have already served 4 years in jail.

The accused held guilty for murder and related charges include Ram Mehar, Sandeep Dhillon, Ramvilas, Sarabjit Singh, Pavan Kumar, Sohan Kumar, Pradip kumar, Ajmer Singh, Jia Lal, Amerjeet Kapoor, Dhanraj Bhambi, Yogesh Kumar and Pradeep Gujjar. They have been held guilty under sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 436 (rioting), 427 (destruction of property) and 325 (mischief) of the Indian Penal Code.

The court of additional district and sessions judge R P Goyal heard arguments from the prosecution and the defence on Friday and reserved the sentencing for Saturday.

The defence lawyers have said they will challenge the sentence in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

More than four years after Dev died during labour unrest at one of its factories, a court in Gurgaon convicted 31 workers, including 13 for murder on March 10. Local workers unions had termed the decision as anti-labour.

The 2012 labour unrest at Maruti’s Manesar factory was one of the most violent in the country in recent years. Awanish Kumar Dev, the general manager in the human resources department, was beaten up and burnt to death inside the facility. At least 100 executives were also injured. For a month, the company locked out workers at the factory that produced 1,600 cars a day, losing Rs 70 crore each day.

The management had alleged that the violence was part of a conspiracy, but workers claimed it as an accident. Police arrested 148 workers and charged them with offences ranging from murder, attempt to murder, rioting, unlawful assembly, assault and trespass.

The 2012 violence was sparked off by a minor altercation between the two sides over the working conditions in the factory. Unions said there was no planned conspiracy behind the development. Otherwise so many workers would not have been acquitted, they said.