A retired post office employee and father of Sarabjit Singh accused of the Maruti plant violence, 2012, Avtar Singh had pinned his hopes on the court’s verdict and expected his son to be acquitted. But after learning about Sarabjit’s conviction, Avtar’s immediate worry was disclosing the details to his daughter-in-law and granddaughter.
“My son is innocent and the family has never believed that he was involved in any violence. Sarabjit is a sincere, hard working son who was wrongly convicted. I had faith in god but the verdict has failed me. Sarabjit’s wife and five-year-old daughter are waiting at home, expecting his return. I do not know what to tell them,” Avtar said.
On Friday, owing to limited space on the court premises, anxious workers, families of accused, and Maruti Suzuki officials assembled outside the district court awaiting the verdict in the case five years after the incident amid heavy police presence.
The entrance to the court was barricaded and over 300 police personnel, including women constables, were deployed with batons, helmets and shields.
Prior to entering the court, police frisked entrants to check for flammable or sharp-edged objects and other weapons.
Around 9.30 am, the first group of Maruti Suzuki workers and their families assembled near the lawyers’ chambers. Nearly an hour later, the group expanded to over 200 people.
Once the verdict became clear after an initial confusion on the case being deferred, there was mixed emotions among the crowd.
Those acquitted were relieved and wanted to get back to normal life after being behind bars during the trial. For those convicted, it was another setback
“The case against the workers was fabricated and we were imprisoned despite being innocent. I cannot get back my four years but the verdict gives an opportunity for me to contribute to my family which has been surviving on the returns from my father’s farm,” Yadvendra Sharma, one of the workers acquitted in the case, said.
Despite the obscurity, a few of the expelled workers wanted their jobs back.
Sunil Kumar was only 21 years old when he lost his job at Maruti’s Manesar plant. He was one of the 500 employees sacked by Maruti Suzuki a day after the incident in 2012.
“The court’s verdict proves our innocence but the acquittal will be fruitless unless it assists in reclaiming our jobs. I will approach Maruti employees for re-employment,” Sunil said.