A Gurugram court on Friday convicted 31 workers and acquitted 117 of them in a 2012 violence case in Maruti factory at Manesar.
After nearly five years of trial, the court convicted 31 people in the deadly 2012 Maruti Suzuki factory violence case in which a manager was set on fire by a mob. Of the 31 workers, 18 have been convicted only for grievous hurt and trespass and 13 workers have been convicted for murder.
In a deadly riot at India’s biggest carmaker’s factory in Manesar in 2012, a mob had destroyed the factory’s property, set parts of the factory on fire, and the Human Resources manager was burnt to death. 94 management personnel and supervisors, along with nine police officers, were also injured during the clashes.
Awanish Kumar Dev, the General Manager (Human Resources) at Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar plant, perished in a factory fire. His limbs had allegedly been broken so that he could not leave the premises and the building was set on fire. His charred body was identified by a tooth implant.
The riots began after a heated debate over disciplinary issues with an employee went out of control. The disagreements between the workers and the management soon turned bloody. Workers were reportedly protesting against what they called unfavourable working conditions. The workers’ union had accused Maruti of “anti-worker and anti-union activities”.
After the riots, 148 workers were arrested for criminal conspiracy and murder. The plant, which has a manufacturing facility of 550,000 cars per year, was shut for a month, suffering loss of crores of rupees. Following the incident, the management of the plant terminated the services of 550 permanent and over 1,800 contract workers, causing widespread outrage. And none of the 148 jailed workers could secure bail for long. It was only on 23 February 2015 that the Supreme Court granted bail to two of the 148 accused.
Of the 148 accused, 117 were acquitted of all charges, while the quantum of punishment for the remaining 31 will be announced on 17 March.
On Thursday, tensions ran high before the verdict was announced. At least 25,000 workers of major automobile companies went on a hunger strike on Thursday in Gurugram and Manesar. To display their solidarity, the workers at the Maruti Suzuki factories boycotted the company lunch and asked the management to secure the release of the workers.
Before the verdict, Section 144 was imposed in the area and policemen were deployed in sensitive regions. More than 500 policemen were deployed around the district court and more than 2,000 police personnel are stationed near sensitive areas such as the Kamla Nehru Park, Delhi, where the workers had threatened to begin protesting if it went against them.
Activists are now demanding swift and speedy justice, particularly for the rehabilitation for the 117 acquitted who were forced to waste five years of their lives.