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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

Suzuki plant closed down after HR chief killed in riots

Workers face murder charges after human resources manager's death.

MUMBAI // The top Indian carmaker Maruti Suzuki has shut one of its two factories after rioting sparked by a labour dispute killed one person and injured dozens of others.

Puneep Dhawan, a company spokesman, said yesterday the plant stopped production on Wednesday night because of fire damage caused by rioting workers. "The plant is burnt in sections. You cannot make any cars," he said.

The body was identified as that of Awanish Kumar Dev, general manager, human resources, at the factory, according to the Press Trust of India reports.

Mr Dhawan said no decision had been taken on whether to reopen the 550,000 vehicle a year plant in Manesar, in the state of Haryana.

The company, which is a subsidiary of Japan's Suzuki Motor, said that at least 40 managers and executives had been hospitalised with injuries.

The police had arrested 88 Maruti Suzuki workers on charges including murder and damaging property.

According to Maruti, the unrest was sparked when a worker beat up a supervisor on Wednesday morning. The company said the union prevented management from disciplining the worker, blocked exit gates and "held the executives hostage."

After talks broke down, workers "attacked members of the senior management, executives and managers," and ransacked the property, the company said.

The Maruti Suzuki Workers Union, in a statement distributed to Indian media, offered a different version of events, saying that a supervisor had "abused" and made "casteist comments" against a low-caste worker.

Instead of taking action against the supervisor, management suspended the worker, the union said. The union denied responsibility for the violence, saying that management had sent in hundreds of "bouncers" to attack the workers with "sharp weapons and arms" and set fire to part of the factory.