Cops thwart protest at Maruti factory

Heavy deployment of police force and prohibitory orders prevented sacked Maruti Suzuki employees from protesting outside the company’s plant at Manesar in Haryana’s Gurgaon district on Thursday to mark the anniversary of last year’s violence.

Maruti Suzuki Workers Union claimed around 600 people held a candlelight march at Leisure Valley Park in Gurgaon sector 29, and announced they will hold a peaceful demonstration outside the plant after securing permission from High Court.

Several students of Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia were also seen at Leisure Valley Park with photographs of Maruti Suzuki general manager Awanish Kumar Dev, who died in the clash between workers and Maruti Suzuki management on July 18, 2012, which also left hundreds of others injured.

Gurgaon district magistrate had imposed section 144 under the Code of Criminal Procedure for Thursday barring assembly of five or more persons, but gave permission for gathering at Leisure Valley Park. Gurgaon Police commissioner Alok Mittal said a foolproof arrangement was ensured to deal with any untoward incident and to maintain peace.

“The agitating sacked workers along with their family members and friends were not allowed to move towards national highway 8, Gurgaon Mini Secretariat, Industrial Model Township Manesar and Tau Devi Lal Park in Manesar,” Mittal said.

In their general body meeting on Wednesday evening, Maruti Suzuki Workers Union had decided to go ahead with a peaceful demonstration and indefinite hunger strike in IMT Manesar on Thursday. “We decided to gather at Leisure Valley Park at 9 am and take out a foot march towards Manesar to hold our peaceful demonstration at Tau Devilal Park in IMT Manesar,” said Yogesh, the union’s provisional committee member.

He said the union wants to carry forward the struggle, but continuous repression by the Haryana government forced them to avert the planned gathering. “Over 2,000 police personnel and paramilitary have been stationed in the park itself, while Gurgaon has literally been turned into a military fortress with flag marches led by the police commissioner himself,” Yogesh added.

Mahabir, another provisional committee member of the union, insisted they were acting well within their democratic and fundamental rights to stage protests against continuous injustice. “We were not planning to be violent, but we also do not want any face-off with the authorities,” he added. He claimed that the Haryana government was acting only in favour of the interests of Maruti Suzuki management.
On July 18, 2012, violence had broken out at the plant after a suspended worker allegedly slapped a supervisor. After the incident, the company dismissed some 546 permanent and 1,800 contract workers.

Of them, 147 workers, including the then union leaders, were jailed and are facing trial. The union has been demanding release of arrested workers and to dismiss “fabricated cases”.

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