India: Framed-up Maruti Suzuki workers sentenced to life imprisonment
18 March 2017
Thirteen Maruti Suzuki autoworkers were sentenced to life in prison by an Indian court on Saturday. Four others have been given five-year prison terms, and 14 more sentenced to three-year jail terms.
The workers are victims of a monstrous frame-up mounted by the automaker, the police and judicial authorities, with the full complicity of India’s principal political parties—the Congress Party and the Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The 13 workers condemned to life in prison include the entire leadership of the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU). The MSWU was established by workers at Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar, Haryana car assembly plant in opposition to a stooge union that had connived with the company in their brutal exploitation.
The workers have been framed for a 2012 company-provoked altercation and fire that resulted in the death of a company human resources manager.
“The victim Awanish Kumar Dev was beaten brutally and he could not escape from the fire because of the injuries inflicted by the accused,” claimed prosecutor Lal Singh at a sentencing hearing Friday, at which the prosecution demanded capital punishment for the 13.
Justice R.P. Goyal did not condemn the 13 workers to execution—a penalty the prosecution itself said should be reserved for the “rarest of the rare cases.” But a life sentence in an Indian prison, where living conditions are deplorable and prisoners are routinely beaten and otherwise abused, is tantamount to a slow death.
Many of the workers were previously subjected to torture, including severe leg stretching, electric shocks and water immersion, carried out in an attempt to extract forced confessions.
All 31 workers are the…