M A I N   N E W S

DSP among hundreds hurt 
Agitating workers cane-charged in Gurgaon
Ravi S. Singh
Tribune News Service

Police lathi-charge agitating workers near Mini Secretariat in Gurgaon on Monday.
Police lathi-charge agitating workers near Mini Secretariat in Gurgaon on Monday.

Gurgaon, July 25
A procession of workers of Honda Scooters and Motorcycle Ltd, based at Manesar, near here, today went berserk setting on fire the Gypsy of the Subdivisional Magistrate (SDM) and critically injuring the DSP, (Headquarters), near the ITI chowk. They also set on fire a police outrider and pelted stones, injuring about 20 police personnel and the SDM.

After giving the processionists a long rope for about four hours, the police counter-attacked them on the lawns of the Mini-Secretariat, injuring hundreds of them. The processionists were about 3,000 in number. The exact number of workers injured could not be ascertained, but few were the lucky ones who were not cane-charged while they were staging a sit-in at the Mini-Secretariat.

The Deputy Commissioner of Gurgaon, Mr Sudhir Rajpal, said the injured DSP, (Headquarters), Mr Jag Parvez Dahiya, who was admitted in Kalyani Hospital, was in a critical condition. The SDM, Mr Jai Singh Sagwan, whose jeep was burnt, also received injuries.

According to Mr Rajpal, 65 workers were injured, 15 of them seriously.

The day started with the workers of Honda Scooters assembling at Kamla Nehru Park from where they started their procession. When the procession reached the ITI crossing, the SDM of Gurgaon along with the DSP had a word with the agitationists.

At this, workers went berserk and set the SDM’s jeep on fire. Simultaneously, they pelted stones on about 50 police personnel at the site. The police fired gun shots in air to put them on the backfoot, but to no avail. The mob then targeted the police out rider and set it on fire.

Then they trained their ire on the DSP, dragging him to the ground. While some used lathis on him, others pelted stones.

According to eyewitnesses, it was a providential escape for the DSP with police personnel bodily whisking him away from the site. He has received injuries on his head.

It was a copybook defensive posture of the motley police personnel in the face of about 3,000 workers on the rampage. They literally chased and shooed the personnel who were not even armed properly, perhaps not expecting such a violence from the workers. The personnel were running for cover with the workers in a no holds-barred mood, pelting stones at them.

The workers then did the rounds of the city in a procession for about four hours, virtually holding the public at ransom on the route. There was general panic after the news of the incident spread in the city. The shopkeepers downed their shutters and commuters changed directions wherever the procession went.

However, the workers alleged that the SDM and the DSP provoked them as they tried to disrupt the procession.

As if to instill confidence in the police force, the Deputy Commissioner of Gurgaon, Mr Sudhir Rajpal, and the2 district police chief, Mr Yogender Nehra, marched with the constabulary in riot gear after the processionists in the wake of the violence. In the meantime, the police got its reinforcement with personnel from the Haryana Reserved Police Force, fleets of the fire brigade, personnel from the Rapid Action Force and personnel from various police stations who were enlisted for the operation.

It appears that as part of a strategy, the police and the administration allowed them to assemble at the Mini-Secretariat. It was here that a heavy posse of police personnel swooped on them, cane-charging them at will. The workers alleged that they were asked by the administration to assemble at the Mini-Secretariat for talks with it.

The Deputy Commissioner said that the agitationists were planning to burn a showroom of Honda Scooters on the highway. He further said that the workers were not acceptable to amicable solution to the impasse between them and the Honda Scooters management.

Meanwhile, the AITUC chief and Left party MP, Mr Gurudass Dasgupta, who arrived here after the police assault to show solidarity with the workers, alleged that he was manhandled by a DSP and the DC when he tried to ascertain the facts. He said that he would the raise the issue in Parliament and demanded action against the DSP who allegedly misbehaved with him.


PM anguished, Hooda orders probe
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tonight expressed "deep anguish and concern" over Haryana police action against workers of Honda two-wheeler manufacturing factory in Gurgaon.

He asked the state government to take action against all those held responsible for the violence, including police personnel.

The Prime Minister spoke to Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and issued instructions that the injured be given proper treatment, the Prime Minister's media advisor Sanjaya Baroo said.

Meanwhile, Mr Hooda has ordered a magisterial inquiry into today's violent incidents in Gurgaon.

An official spokesman said inquiry would be held by the Gurgaon Divisional Commissioner, Dr Avtar Singh, who would give his report in 15 days.

The Chief Minister visited the injured in Gurgaon hospitals in the evening.

He said those found guilty would be punished. Asked about the role of the police, Mr Hooda said an independent inquiry was being held to know the truth.

"I will not go by the official version. Orders have been given for an independent inquiry which will establish who is guilty," he said. Mr Hooda said it would be ascertained if some disruptive elements had joined the ranks of striking employees.

He said negotiations with the striking employees of the private company were in an advanced stage. "The inquiry will probe reasons for the sudden violence," he added. The Chief Minister said his first priority was to ensure proper medical care for all those who had been injured.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi expressed deep anguish over today's unfortunate incidents in Gurgaon.

Party leaders said Ms Gandhi directed the Chief Minister to order an immediate inquiry and take appropriate action against those responsible for the incident.


Gurgaon lathi-charge to be raised in Parliament
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
The Congress party’s initial plans to launch a counter-offensive against BJP’s attack in Parliament tomorrow could come a cropper as it will find itself cornered on the issue of the brutal lathi charge by the Haryana police on striking employees in Gurgaon.

The Opposition has already declared its intention to raise this issue in Parliament tomorrow with the NDA even sending a three-member team for a full report on today’s incident. The Congress will have a lot of explaining to do not just to the Opposition but also to the Left parties as the employees union spearheading the agitation in Gurgaon is backed by the CPI.

This incident could not have come at a worse time for the Congress. The monsoon session of Parliament is just getting underway and the BJP has made it clear that it will take on the UPA government on a host of issues. It planned to move an adjournment motion tomorrow on the issue of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, the government’s failure to protect the borders against this inflow and the Supreme Court’s move to strike down the IMDT Act.

Earlier during the day, the Congress camp had been exuding confidence, especially after the Left parties assured them full cooperation in Parliament. This promise was held out at the customary meeting of Congress and Left leaders on floor coordination. Although there is a lot of convergence between the Left and the BJP on issues like the Indo-US nuclear pact and the PM’s Oxford speech praising the Raj, the Left leaders made it know that they will not vote against the UPA government. Union ministers Ghulam Nabi Azad and Pranab Mukherjee represented the Congress at this meeting.

“The Left will be aggressive in Parliament, they will criticise us but eventually when it comes to the crunch, they will extend full support to the government,” said a senior UPA minister.

Emboldened by the Left assurance, the Congress declared that it will give a “befitting reply” to all the issues which the BJP plans to raise.

Party spokesperson Anand Sharma said the Congress and its allies will remind the BJP of its role in the past, especially the freedom struggle, when they corner Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his praise of the Raj. It will also seek to puncture the BJP attack by referring to BJP leader L.K. Advani’s formulation declaring Jinnah a secular leader in the course of the debate. “If they are going to pin us down on the Prime Minister’s Oxford speech, then we are also within our right to question Mr. Advani’s observations on Jinnah in Pakistan,” remarked a senior Congress leader.

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