A mob of 600 men created havoc inside Maruti’s Manesar plants for more than 40 minutes on Wednesday while a contingent of 50 armed policemen — headed by an assistant commissioner — looked on.
The police finally intervened, but only after HR executive Awanish Kumar Dev was thrashed mercilessly and burned to death.
Recounting the horror, several among the 100 executives who were beaten up that day told HT how the police just watched and sprung into action only when the factory was set ablaze.
But it was too late for 51-year-old Dev. “It was only after the fire broke out around 7pm that the police sprung into action," said a survivor requesting anonymity. "Had the police acted on time, Dev would perhaps be alive today."
The strange inertia of police did not end there. It took eight hours for them to lodge an FIR and more than an hour after that to issue arrest orders. And that seemed to be enough time for the main culprits to flee the area.
"Law says if there is a cognisable offence being perpetrated, the police have to act immediately," said Ajai Raj Sharma, former Delhi Police chief. "In practice though, there is always indecision while dealing with students and labour unions, as they enjoy political patronage."
But Gurgaon commissioner of police KK Sindhu said a large number of managers and executives could be rescued only because the police took swift action. “Otherwise, the number of casualties could have been more than 20."
The police have so far arrested 97 workers, but only one of them is a member of the trade union that is believed to be behind the conspiracy.
On Monday, a local court issued arrest warrants against 12 workers, including some office bearers of the union. The state government also appointed criminal lawyer KTS Tulsi as special prosecutor for the trial.