Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dismissed employees beat CEO to death

23 Sep 2008, 0124 hrs IST, Lalit Kumar ,TNN


GREATER NOIDA: In one of the worst instances of industrial violence in recent times, the MD-cum-CEO of the India unit of Italian MNC, Graziano Trasmissioni, was bludgeoned to death by a 200-strong armed mob of dismissed workers which had barged into the company premises and indulged in largescale violence.

According to Graziano employees, the sacked workers rushed into the premises around 12.20pm when the gates were opened to let in a car. "They smashed each one of the approximately 20 cars inside the compound. Hearing the commotion, our CEO, Lalit Kishore Chaudhary, came out to the building entrance. He was abused while trying to reason with the protesters. And, when he objected, the beat him to death with a hammer," said production supervisor, Udaivir.

Chaudhary, 44, was rushed to Greater Noida's Kailash Hospital, where doctors declared him brought dead. The violence left at least 50 executives and workers of the unit injured. Of the 44 staffers taken to hospital, 34 of them were yet to be discharged until Monday night. Of these, 10 executives of the company remained in the intensive care unit.

The unit also sustained heavy damage in the vandalism that followed. Five Italian technical consultants, who were visiting the unit, barely managed to escape injuries. Some of them had to plead with the raiders to spare them.

The unit, a 100% subsidiary of Graziano Italy, specializes in making gears and transmission systems for vehicles. It was set up in 1998 and commenced commercial production in 2000.

Shockingly, despite several Graziano officials phoning up a number of Noida police officials about the violence, only two police constables arrived at the spot after an hour. And, even at 3.30pm, as the unit's security personnel and some other employees shut themselves up in the unit, only about half a dozen Provincial Armed Constabulary personnel were posted outside.

And, there was no officer with them. Which meant that, in case of an emergency, there was nobody there to order any action. And, this was the state of affairs with the district reserve police lines being located half a kilometre away.

Police officers were not available for comment, until 9.45pm, when area superintendent of police, Babu Ram, claimed, "We had sent force within 15 minutes of getting information. Later, we also arrested 63 persons for murder, rioting and other charges. We had even earlier received a note from the Italian Embassy about trouble at Graziano."

The roots of the unrest can be traced to three months ago, when the company declared a partial lockout. Some 200 employees were affected. Company sources said 15 staffers were given termination letters while the others were to be taken back.

According to a company employee, "Some workers had been locked out selectively. They had arrived today to negotiate the re-employment terms. But, they were not willing to accept some conditions. And, sat on a dharna outside the main gate. There is a court injunction against these workers coming within 300 meters of the unit. But the police did not arrive when about 200 of them were at the gates, even as a precautionary measure."

The bloodstained hammer, which was allegedly used to kill Chaudhary, was found lying in the premises, and had surprisingly not been seized by the police as evidence.

In the company guesthouse, visiting Italian technical consultant, Forettii Gatii, told TOI , "I just locked my room's door from inside. And I prayed they would not break in. See, my hands are trembling even three hours later."

Another consultant said they broke the door of his room and entered, but he just pleaded to them to spare him. For some reason, he was spared. But inside the unit, in spite of there being over 30 security guards, the remaining employees looked scared and worried.

Chaudhary is survived by wife Ratna, a lecturer at DU's Kirori Mal College. His only son, Keshav, studies in Class XII at Modern School, Barakhamba Road. According to family circles, he will be cremated at Delhi's Nigambodh Ghat on Tuesday morning.

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