The chief executive officer of a Greater Noida-based gear manufacturing company was lynched to death inside factory promises on Monday, allegedly by a group of dismissed workers.
<b1>Lalit Kishore Choudhary (47), CEO and India-head of the Rs 360-crore Graziano Transmissioni India Pvt Ltd, was killed when a meeting to discuss the dismissal of over 125 workers turned violent.
Choudhary was rushed to Kailash Hospital, where he was declared brought dead. Over 50 other employees also sustained injuries.
“Around 125 dismissed workers armed with iron rods barged into the factory and went on rampage. They broke computers and machinery and smashed windowpanes. When Lalit tried to pacify them, they assaulted him with rods,” board of director Ramesh Jain told Hindustan Times.
The problem over the dismissed workers has been simmering for some time.
“The company asked us to write an apology letter saying we had caused violence in the past which forced the lockout. This made me the furious and the gathered workers started protesting,” said Avdesh, one of the workers. “However, we did not kill the CEO.”
Another employee, Rajpal said: “We were demonstrating peacefully to get our jobs back. Outsiders may have assaulted the CEO leading to his death. Firing by the guards agitated workers and they clashed with staff. Several workers, too, were injured.”
Anticipating violence, the company had informed the police at around 9.45 am alleged Jain. Still, no policeman reached the site till 12.30 pm. “Had they reached in time, the workers would not have entered the factory and the CEO's life could have been saved,” Jain said.
DP Singh, assistant labour commissioner for Ghaziabad, had been recently deputed to resolve the conflict.
"On September 16, the management and labour leaders had agreed to take back the dismissed employees except for 15 of them whose services were terminated. It was agreed that workers will individually give applications tendering an apology letter," Singh told HT.
Choudhary is survived by his wife Ratna, a Reader in the Physics Department of Delhi University's Kirori Mal College and 17-year-old son Keshav. Keshav who first heard about the incident on TV, is in a state of shock. Choudhury's brother, who stays in Toronto, is on his way to India.
Law and order in industrial sectors has been deteriorating, said Association of Greater Noida Industries (AGNI) vice president Aditya Ghildiyal. "The way workers barged into the factory and assaulted the CEO shows that they have no fear of the police. MNCs hesitate to come to Noida or Greater Noida owing to such incidents."
The police said the apology letter could have triggered the violent reaction. "Of the 19 accused, 13 have been arrested. Around 50 other people have also been held," Senior Superintendent of Police (Noida), RK Chaturvedi said.
"We are deeply shocked by the news reports and are trying to ascertain details of the incident," an Italian Embassy official said.