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An emergency, but they won't show up

Despite repeated requests for security from factories setting up shop in the area, the police in Noida have been notoriously apathetic.

india Updated: Sep 23, 2008 21:28 IST

It was either criminal negligence or gross inefficiency that cost the CEO of a Noida-based Indo-Italian company his life. It doesn’t matter. A man was killed by a lynch mob and the police were not there to protect him. The murder of L.K. Choudhury at the hands of sacked workers of his company is something that the Noida Police will have to answer for. Not turning up at the factory premises even three hours after being alerted, they are not only guilty of dereliction of duty but also of not providing the basic requirement asked by a citizenry. The Italian embassy had sought more protection for the company well over a week ago. Again the police did not budge. Thirteen people have subsequently been charged with Choudhury’s murder and 63 charged with rioting. Along with the suspension of the Station House Officer (SHO), this is post-mortem action, not a preventive one.

Over 10 factories in this ‘industrial belt’ have been subject to violent workers’ protests. It is no one’s case that dismissed workers have no right to protest. But under no circumstances can they be allowed to take the law into their own hands. In the latest case, they had come well prepared to wreak mayhem, armed with iron rods and hammers. Violent trade-unionism, once the bane of cities like Kolkata, has assumed ugly proportions in places like Noida. Workers often go on the rampage and thanks to political patronage are able to get away with it. This is where the police should stand firm.

Despite repeated requests for security from factories setting up shop in the area, the police have been notoriously apathetic. This has naturally led many companies to shun local workers, another bone of contention in areas where the factories operate. It is a lose-lose situation for businesses. They can’t follow efficient worker management policies, and if they do, they pay a heavy price thanks to lack of security.

The UP government, which has proclaimed long and loud that it is investment savvy, has much to answer for. After Choudhary’s grisly end, it is not likely to find too many investors queuing up at the door. The only way that things can be set right is if the police are told in no uncertain terms that they either do their job of maintaining law and order or face the consequences.