A tense calm prevailed on Thursday as the plant was shut following large scale arson in which Awanish Kumar Dev, HR GM, was burnt beyond recognition while 100 others were injured. Kumar's body was identified by his family and the company alleged that the violence was an orchestrated act of mob, which has implications beyond one company or region.
Ninety-one employees, who were arrested, were 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. The violence in which several executives, managers and supervisors were attacked and office facilities, security office and fire safety section gutted arose out of an alleged casteist remarks by an official against a worker.
The worker allegedly beat him up following which he was suspended and that triggered the large scale violence. Haryana government and police pledged to take stringent action against those responsible for violence. Maruti Suzuki said the violence is a negative trigger for existing companies and regions across the country as also for prospective investors and job seekers.
The firm, which witnessed strikes on three occasions last year, has already announced plans to set up a new plant in Gujarat at an investment of Rs 4,000 crore, a move which was interpreted as coming against the backdrop of violence in the region. Gurgaon, an industrial hub neighbouring the national capital, was the scene of large scale violence by workers and outside forces at the Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India's unit and subsequent strikes in other units.
Rejecting the company's charge, Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU) accused the management of calling in hundreds of bouncers on its payroll to attack the workers. It said instead of taking action against the supervisor who was involved in a scuffle with a shop floor worker "the management immediately suspended the worker concerned without any investigation".
"When the workers along with union representatives went to meet HR to demand against the supervisor and revoke the unjust suspension of the worker, the HR officials flatly refused to hear our arguments, and it was in no mood to resolve the issue amicably," MSWU President Ram Meher said in a statement.
The union, however, said it was ready for a dialogue with the management and wanted to resolve the issue amicably.
Taking a serious view of the violence, Haryana Chief Secretary PK Chaudhery said a special investigating team has been formed under Assistant Commissioner of Police, Gurgaon, Ravinder Tomar, to investigate the matter.
He gave an assurance that no one would be spared for taking law into his hands and resorting to violence.
Haryana DGP Ranjeev Singh Dalal visited the plant and said the police has taken over the entire plant to maintain law and order.
"We are going to take stern action against the guilty," he told reporters, adding nothing can justify this kind of violence.
He said the police have been on the field since last night to nab the culprits. But the ring leaders have run away and were absconding.
Dalal said he would camp in Gurgaon till the matter is resolved.
An anguished India Inc condemned the violence in the Maruti Suzuki premises and said frequent incidents of labour unrest in Gurgaon-Manesar area are compelling industrial units to migrate to other states.
"Assocham expresses its anguish and strongly condemns the violence at Maruti Suzuki premises," its Secretary General DS Rawat said.
Echoing similar views, CII's Deputy Chairman (Northern Region) Jayant Davar said in Jaipur that the violence at the Maruti plant "is extremely unfortunate".
However, he added that in the long run, the incident would not have major impact on industrial environment.
As Maruti Suzuki India share price tanked over 9 per cent, investors lost Rs 3,183 crore in a single day in the stock market today.