The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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No trace of nine Honda workers
- Colleagues put together missing list, chief minister cries foul

New Delhi, July 27: Honda’s nine versus Hooda’s none.

That’s the story of the missing workers, two days after the flare-up at Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India in Gurgaon.

Workers lucky enough to have scraped through with fewer injuries from police lathis today mounted a hospital-to-hospital search for missing comrades, announcing by evening that as many as nine could not be traced.

They also managed to fix their identities ' Rajkumar, Bhag Singh, Rakesh, Rajesh, Makit Singh, Om Prakash, Sushil, Purab and Puran ' and place the departments in which some of them worked.

But the state government cried foul, with an upset chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda appealing at a news conference that wild rumours should not be believed as not a single worker had gone missing.

“There are too many rumours doing the rounds. Please do not believe them. The compensation announced also covers those not belonging to the company,” he pleaded.

Honda workers, however, carried on their hunt, trawling nursing homes and even police stations. The workers’ union put the missing figure at 300 but was not able to come up with the names.

According to Citizens Committee, a fact-finding team drawn from Left organisations, more are likely to be found missing once the current list is scrutinised.

“There are strong rumours that bodies of several workers who died in the lathicharge have been disposed of by the police. Our futile efforts to meet the deputy labour commissioner and the district commissioner suggest something is wrong,” Kamal Mitra Chenoy, a committee member and Jawaharlal Nehru University professor, said.

The preliminary findings of the committee suggest the district commissioner could have had a hand in sparking the violence.

“It was the DC who told the workers to proceed to the mini secretariat grounds where he would come and receive their memorandum,” claimed J. John, another committee member.

“Workers are not aware what kind of fate the missing fellows must have met. There are all kinds of possibilities, including police cover-up,” he added.

The committee said it had evidence the workers had not gone on strike. Rather, the management had declared a lockout and shut them out.

“There was clear evidence that denial of basic labour rights had led to the labour unrest which eventually led to violence and resulted in the murder of civil rights,” it said.

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