Saturday, 18 March 2017

Brutal Class Justice Shows Its Teeth

13 of the Falsely Implicated Maruti Workers condemned for Life, Shorter Terms for 18 Others

- Rajesh Tyagi/ 20.3.2017

Out of the 31 Maruti-Suzuki workers, convicted last week by the Sessions Court at Gurgaon, Haryana, for various offences from rioting to murder, 13 have been condemned for life, 4 for 5 year and rest 14 for 3 years jail terms.

The 148 workers were charged for the offences in 2012 after a management provoked tussle between the workers and the managers inside the Maruti-Suzuki plant in Manesar on July 18 had entailed a fire in which part of the plant was gutted and the HR Manager of the company, Avanish Kumar Dev, got charred to death.

The workers had been agitating since a year for improvement in the sweatshop working conditions inside the Manesar plant, after sidelining a pro-management stooge union. Since then, the struggle of Maruti workers had become the spearhead of a broader workers’ struggle in the Manesar-Dharuhera Industrial belt that is manufacturing hub for major automakers. This struggle was emerging as a challenge not only to the multinational automaker giants but also to the trade unions whose job is to keep the workers under check and harness them to the vital needs of the industry and profits.

148 workers were framed up for rioting, arson and murder, despite statement of the wife of the deceased HR Manager that workers were at good terms with her husband. Those arrested included the entire leadership of the newly formed Union with all active workers during the year-long agitation.

The company managers conspired with state authorities to unleash a reign of terror upon the workers. The arrested workers were beaten up badly by the police, given electric shocks, immersed into water and got their legs and hands stretched to unbearable pain before being framed up for various offences, indiscriminately.

The then Congress government in Haryana under Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, was instrumental in the brutal repression upon the workers. The newly elected government in Haryana of the Bhartiya Janata Party, has only expedited the trial of the workers to ensure that they get maximum punishments. Both Congress and the BJP have acted in collusion in this assault mounted upon the workers by the automakers.

The prosecution failed to link up the fire in the plant to any conspiracy or nay act of the workers. To the mockery of all legality, the ocular evidence produced by the prosecution falsified itself on the face of it, as the prosecution witnesses had divided the accused workers among themselves in alphabetic order of their names to depose against them. Whole prosecution evidence was so perjured that the Court itself has observed that there was lot of fabrication. Despite all holes in the prosecution case, despite the unreliability of the evidence, the trial court convicted the 31 workers last week and has sentenced them yesterday to maximum jail terms that could be imposed.

Having failed to link the arson to workers, the prosecution miserably resorted to another lie that the HR manager got charred in fire as he could not escape for being beaten by the workers. On this fringe plea the Court has convicted and sentenced 13 workers for life.

The ruthless conviction and the sentence have come as no surprise to anyone. From the very beginning the state and the entire political establishment under it, were so determined to inflict heavy punishment upon the workers to set an example before others. Through this terror, the Indian rulers sought to assure the foreign investors that they would go to any extent to enforce the abominable work conditions and the repressive regime to generate and secure maximum profits.

The militant struggle of the workers in Maruti plant in Manesar in opposition to the low wages and employment of contract labour, was for worry to all of the big corporates as the same practices are prevalent all over the country to the detriment and annoyance of the workers.

Not only the most militant workers who had been leading the struggle for an year prior to the incident of July 18, were maliciously targeted for brutal repression by the police on the basis of the lists it received from the management, but another 2300 workers were also thrown out before restart of the plant.

Defying all norms and parameters of fair investigation of a crime, the police case was based upon selective evidence and suppression of crucial evidence. The prosecution and the management, inspite of repeated requests by the defence, did not produce the CCTV footage of the incident that would have cleared all fog.

Holding the workers responsible for the July 18 incident, triggered by the abuse of a worker by the company deployed contractor and later use of bouncers by the management to beat up the workers, in fact a calculated provocation by the management, the trial Court, turning a blind eye upon all intrinsic value of the evidence on record, has sentenced them to maximum it could. The entire leadership and the frontline activists of the Union have been shamelessly condemned to jail terms.

After the prosecution witnesses failed even to identify the workers in the court, the whole prosecution story was exposed to be so untrue and unfounded that the trial Court was left with no option but to exonerate the 117 workers out of 148 accused, finding no ground for their conviction. Even those who are acquitted have spent years together in the jail after they were charged and arrested under various offences.

It must be underscored that the quality of evidence, produced against the 31 convicts, is of no better virtue than that in the case of the 117 acquitted. All this is overlooked by the trial judge to punish the workers for their opposition to the corporate.

The reign of repression that was unleashed by the Congress government upon the workers, has continued incessantly under the BJP government that substituted it later. This demonstrates the real class interests, hidden behind the whole tyranny, that these big-business parties represent.

As the news of sentences upon the workers reached Manesar yesterday, the workers in many plants made a one hour tool-down strike.

Before this, around one lakh workers have protested on Thursday, through boycott of lunch.

The state authorities fearing a backlash from the workers against the blatant injustice inflicted upon them, have imposed in advance the prohibitory orders under section 144 of Cr.P.C. imposing a ban on public gatherings of 5 or more persons and have extended them upto March 25.

The trade unions and their leaders have played pernicious role from the very inception of the struggle, by isolating it within narrow confines. They have consciously prevented the struggle from broader mobilization on a wider class basis. The big trade union organisations like HMS, CITU, AITUC have not done anything for the struggling workers. The Parliament members of the Stalinist left parties had never raked up the issue even on the floor of the parliament.

The workers under their leadership and advice have engaged themselves in futile exercise to petition the high-ups inside the establishment for justice, instead of appealing to their class brethren for a determined class struggle against the bourgeois state and its corporate masters. They opposed all voices for independent mobilization of the workers as a class and on that basis opening a broad political offensive against the elite establishment, its leaders, parties and the state.

The crackdown upon the Maruti workers through their conviction and sentence, is a signal to the working class all over the globe that the existing regime of exploitation and repression would be enforced by all means and any attempt to break open the cage would be met with most severe consequences.

Working class must rise up to this challenge. To do this it must appeal to and mobilise its class forces within and without the frontiers of India. It must fight not only for immediate setting aside of the verdict and release of the convicted workers, but also for overthrow of the capitalism and the bourgeois power. It must fight for establishment of a Workers’ and Peasants’ Government through a socialist revolution.


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