Last Wednesday's violence and arson at auto major Maruti Suzuki India Limited's (MSIL) Manesar plant in Gurgaon district, in which a general manager was killed and several company administrators were injured, appears to be manoeuvred by 'A' shift workers.
While the exact number of 'A' shift workers who indulged in hostilities is not known, officials investigating the incident are in the know that a majority of them came from a politically influential belt abutting Gurgaon. Government sources told HT that MSIL was expected to terminate the services of several 'A' shift workers.
A government report on the incident says that the workers' union adopted an aggressive posture during the meeting with MSIL management. "The union representatives also directed 'A' shift workers to stay back in the rest area even after the end of the shift at 3pm till the matter was sorted out. The 'B' shift workers continued production in the plant… The labour department officials tried to persuade the union representatives through other union leaders of factories located in Gurgaon, but all efforts failed. At this point, the union representatives called the waiting 'A' shift workers from the ground floor to the gallery and also called the 'B' shift workers. A mob emerged and workers in the conference room became violent and started beating management officials with iron rods…," the report says.
Police officials said rods used for hitting managers were procured by the perpetrators from the production area. "These rods are used in the door assembly. This kind of preparation also gives credence to the argument that the violence was planned," said an official.
Officials said production at the Manesar plant continued till 7pm, a clear indication that most of the 'B' shift workers were on the job when violence started. "The mad dash started when the perpetrators started a fire," officials said.
Former Gurgaon Zila Parishad chairman Rao Abhay Singh, who attended a mahapanchayat of villages around Manesar on Monday, told HT that only 'outsiders' could have indulged in such brazen acts of violence. " Our local boys could have never done this. Local baccha aisa kar ke kahan jayega," Yadav said.
He said since the livelihood of a large number of local villagers depended on MSIL's Manesar unit and ancillaries, their prime concern was to ensure that the unit did not shift base.
A former sarpanch of Manesar, Om Prakash, who participated in Monday's mahapanchayat, also pointed towards the involvement of "outsiders" in the arson-violence at the Manesar plant. "No doubt about it. It is a fact that people from the politically influential districts were accommodated at MSIL. They are cornering the lion's share in terms of employment at such establishments," he said.
The Manesar plant, which is locked out now, is the hub for manufacturing popular MSIL models Swift, Swift Dzire, SX4 and Ertiga. A part of the factory area, where a particular notchback model is assembled, has been extensively damaged. The Manesar plant manufactures about 5.5 lakh vehicles every year.
Haryana will also take a hit in terms of tax revenue as MSIL, by means of tax it pays on goods purchased from ancillary units, gives a monthly revenue of Rs 60-70 crore to the state government. Officials said though they did not expect any ripple effect of the unrest on other factories in the area, they were worried that the ancillary units would be adversely affected on account of a sharp decline in the demand of parts and accessories.