Maruti Verdict and Reactions

A sustained attack by the State-capital nexus which began in July 2012 with termination of 546 permanent , 1800 contract workers of Maruti Manesar plant,  court cases on 246 workers  and imprisonment  of 148 workers reached a prescient point today when Gurgaon trial court gave it’s expected but  unjust and paradoxical judgment.  It convicted 31 workers while acquitting 117 workers who had spent over three and half years in prison. 13 of these workers, all of whom were members of the union body are charged under IPC 302 and 307 for murder, attempt to murder, arson and conspiracy. Punishment for the convicted workers will be announced on 17th March.

The judgement will have a ring of familiarity with workers from TN who had witnessed a similar baseless judgement passed by special court on the 8 Pricol workers who were given double life sentences in December 2015. It was a protracted legal struggle which saw significant victory recently when high court released 6 of these 8 workers.

As the statement from existing Maruti Suzuki Workers Union highlighted two days ago, workers were apprehensive about the judgment  as the pro corporate stand of Judiciary had become increasingly clear during the trial.  In 2013, one of the High Court orders in May 2013 rejecting bail said “This is one of the unfortunate incident that has lowered the reputation of India in the world. Foreign direct investment is likely not to happen due to fear of growing labour unrest”.

As noted by lawyer Vrinda Grover of the defense team, this judgment of the Gurgaon trial court in the Maruti workers case has unequivocally demolished the foundation of the prosecution case, as 117 workers have been acquitted and 18 have only been charged with causing hurt and trespassing. Added to this, the Kafkaesque nature of the trial when there have been no subtantial evidence against the workers implicating them in the death of the manager shows that this is a politcal verdict on political prisoners of the class war in which state and Judiciary has dropped all the pretense of neutrality and is blatantly siding with MNC.

However if the Maruti Management and this neo-liberal government think that the fight is over, the working class is showing them wrong. On March 9th, over 25,000 workers in various Maruti plants did a hunger strike. On March 5th, a large number of plant level unions from Manesar- Dharuwera- Bawal-Neemrana belt had held a meeting affirming their support and demand for the justice of the jailed Maruti workers. State in its paranoia has also declared section 144 in Manesar area clearly anticipating that this judgment will cause ripples not just in the Maruti plant but in the entire industrial area. Yesterdaythere was a heavy police presence all the way from Manesar to the Gurgaon High Court during the judgment showing the  fear of the government about workers solidarity and their potential to agitate.   The unions have avowed to continue with various forms of struggles before March 17th, when punishment will be announced. Inspite of heavy police presence, the unions met again in a Park in Gurgaon where it was decided that on 16th March, one day before the quantum of punishment will be declared on convicted workers, all the plant level unions from Bawal to Gurgaon will do lunch boycott and workers have also decided to boycott festival of Holi this year. There will be another meeting of unions on 15th March during which future course of struggle will be decided.

Three successive judgements in three successive days,  starting with the life imprisonment of a paraplegic professor G.N. Saibaba, acquittal of a Swami Aseemanand accused in multiple bomb blasts in Mosques and now conviction of 31 Maruti workers ,  are not a coincidence but judgments against the working class of this country.

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