Maruti Suzuki workers convicted over death at Indian factory riot

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An Indian court has convicted 31 Maruti Suzuki workers for their role in the 2012 death of a mid-level factory manager, who was killed in violent riot over wages and conditions at India’s largest car-maker.

Avinash Kumar Dev, Maruti’s general manager of human resources, died at high-tech Manesar car factory, in a deadly eruption of long-simmering tensions over pay, the widespread use of casual labour, and workers efforts to organise a more independent union.

During the violence, angry workers marauded through their plant at Manesar, assaulting senior managers with iron rods and setting fire to equipment, and Mr Dev was killed in the mayhem.

However, the District Court of Gurugram also acquitted 117 Maruti autoworkers, who were also charged with criminal offences like murder and arson in connection with riot.

They were cleared of any crime, a vindication for labour organisers who said the workers had been falsely implicated and wrongly charged to punish them for attempts to organise the union.

In the year before the lethal riot, the plant had lost 60 days of production to strikes, and had also been hit by go-slows and other forms of protests, including what executives said appeared to be deliberate sabotage.

Sentencing in the case – and further details of the convictions – are expected later in the day.

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