Missing or dead in Gurgaon
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- Published 26.08.05
|A Honda worker being beaten up by police. (PTI)|
New Delhi, Aug. 26: At least 17 workers of Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India are still missing after the July 25 police baton-charge and should be presumed dead, a non-official probe says.
The Haryana government, which has not carried out an inquiry into the beating, has denied that anyone was killed. But the Citizens’ Committee ? made up of labour leaders, social activists and academics ? asks the state authorities to either trace the missing workers or consider them dead and compensate the families.
According to Honda union members, however, the number of missing workers is 28.
“We have tried to find them without any success. We’ll make one last-ditch attempt to ascertain their fate,” said Surinder Singh, union vice-president, whom the police allegedly presumed dead and dumped on a hillock on the day of the lathi-charge.
Some 800 workers of the Japanese company were caned after they ringed the mini-secretariat in Gurgaon to protest against police action earlier in the day to break a highway blockade.
“No deputy commissioner can garner the courage to order a lathi-charge on sitting workers without having the protection of higher-ups,” said JNU professor Kamal Mitra Chenoy, a member of the committee, whose report has already been sent to the National Human Rights Commission. “According to the police manual, (a) lathi-charge can be ordered only if methods like teargas and water cannon have failed.”
The union’s advocate, R. Pathak, claims he saw a worker being killed in custody. “One of the injured workers, Subhash Dewan, was beaten up mercilessly in front of my eyes and was given third-degree treatment in the lock-up. When he succumbed, the police burnt his body by dousing kerosene.”
Pathak was booked on the charge of attempt to murder after he said the deputy commissioner, too, was hitting workers with a stick. He alleges he was tortured in the lock-up.
Pathak said the Gurgaon deputy commissioner, Sudhir Rajpal, and senior superintendent of police Yogendra Nehra have been given plum postings, as administrator of the Haryana Urban Development Authority and senior superintendent of police, vigilance, respectively. The committee’s report demands suspension of both, an inquiry against them and severe punishment if found guilty.
The report also asks that a mechanism be devised to establish the government’s responsibility in such instances.