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CEO's murder sends negative signals to industry

The murder of the Indian CEO of an Italian company has sent shock waves among businesses with many saying such incidents will send negative signals to overseas companies.

india Updated: Sep 23, 2008 20:40 IST

The murder of the Indian CEO of an Italian company on Monday in this fast growing industrial township has sent shock waves among businesses with many saying such incidents will send negative signals to overseas companies wanting to operate in India.

Fear stalks the industrial corridors of the town, a day after the murder of LK Choudhary, heading the Indian subsidiary of auto components manufacturer Cerlikon-Graziano Transmissions India, whose administration likes to tout its advantage with the slogan: “Where the future is present and ultra modern infrastructure is ready and waiting for you.”

But businesses maintain that all this is nothing but hype.

"This place has a population of about 50,000 people with as many as four police stations in the area. But, hardly a day goes by without thefts, car jackings and robberies,” Aditya Ghildyal, president of the Association of Greater Noida Industries, told IANS.

“How can industrialists or their employees feel secure here?” he said of this industrial township, just east of the capital, that hosts scores of Indian and multinational companies like Escorts Yamaha, Pepsi, LG Electronics, Moser Baer and Honda SIEL, to name a few.

"The incident indicates law and order failure at a larger level,” said a senior official of consumer electronic giant LG Electronics, requesting anonymity.

“How can we talk about creating dedicated industrial townships with world class infrastructure without being able to ensure basic safety of human life?” he said.

Choudhary, 53, was lynched at around 12.30 pm when about 150 sacked workers barged into the factory demanding they be reinstated.

"If the chief executive of a company is not safe what about general workers and staff? The people here are everyday facing problems of law and order and poor infrastructure," said a senior executive from software firm Birlasoft.

"There is a sense of fear and insecurity in all the industrial units who are operating in this region. We cannot expect any support from the police," he added.

"At best, industrial bodies can only communicate their problems to the authorities. But, if a major multinational company's CEO can be murdered with a hammer, at 12.30 in the afternoon, despite court orders for the police to keep the guilty at least 300 meters from the plant, what can you say?" asked Ghildyal.

The Italian embassy said in a statement that “the incident is all the more worrying as the Italian company Graziano Trasmissioni, after many successful years, had been facing for several months violent forms of protest by self-proclaimed workers' representatives.”

“The situation had been repeatedly brought to the attention of the competent Indian authorities, both at the central and local level,” it said.

Rahul (uses only one name), an executive with technology giant IBM, had taken a transfer from his Bangalore office to be near the national capital. He is now regretting his decision.

“Development is restricted to small pockets. There is no water, power supply is poor and theft and burglary are almost everyday affairs despite there being so many software companies and ancillary units here," he said.

Industry lobby Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) president Sajjan Jindal said that Uttar Pradesh, the country's most populous state in which Greater Noida falls, has already lost industrial glory and will increasingly find it difficult to attract investments unless it eradicates lawlessness.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), another industry lobby, said in a statement that such incidents are bound to sully India's image amongst overseas investors at a time when India is making all-out efforts to make the business environment investment-friendly.

"The company is almost sealed and we don't know what will be our future. I just want to leave this company,” said an employee of the Italian company that has over 300 employees in India.