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Probe sought into Indo Rama firing

September 19, 2005 14:32 IST
Industrial peace in Vidarbha was shattered on Saturday evening when the security chief at Indo Rama Synthetics (India) Ltd's Butibori plant, Vijay Varman shot three persons allegedly to keep violent workers from entering the factory and vandalising it.

Five persons sustained mysterious burn injuries in the incident. Ramtek MP Subodh Mohite, who was present when the incident occurred, later claimed that the firing was "unprovoked, premeditated and aimed at eliminating a union leader."

Indo Rama has however denied that the shooting was premeditated. Terming the incident "unfortunate" Indo Rama CEO R S Singhvi said there was no question of any premeditated firing on workers.

Police sources said, agitating workers stormed the administrative building of the unit immediately after the firing around 5 pm and ransacked it, besides torching six vehicles and damaging several other cars parked in the premises. One of the cars was overturned before being torched.

Police sources said that the gate meeting turned violent when the security officials denied conveyance to the workers, most of whom live in Nagpur city, by allowing buses to leave without waiting for the gate meeting to end.

Some workers led by a suspended employee of Indo Rama, Ramnarayan alias Ballu Shriwas, picked up a quarrel with security personnel following which the security chief, Vijay Varman opened fire on them.

The security chief fired three rounds hitting Ballu Shriwas in the chest and one Anil Kshirsagar and Rambhau Prajapati in the arm and neck respectively.

The police confirmed that some workers had also sustained burn injuries but ruled out any premeditated plan by the unit's management.

"We are investigating the case and yes, some people have sustained minor burn injuries due to some acid," said Superintendent of Police, Nagpur district, Yashaswi Yadav.

Indo Rama's Singhvi said that wage negotiations with the workers were on for some time now and the management was looking for a long-term settlement, and such violence was uncalled for adding that the Indo Rama management was in control of the situation.

"There is no question of any provocation from the management and the truth will be eventually out," he said.

The names of the workers who sustained burn injuries could not be ascertained as they were admitted to a hospital at Butibori, Doctors said that Shriwas' condition was serious while Kshirsagar and Prajapati were recuperating.

The police have arrested Varman on charges of attempt to murder along with security officer, Sudhakar Wankhede. More arrests are likely.

Incidentally, MLA Devendra Fadnavis had also addressed a gate meeting at the same venue Friday afternoon. The meeting, which went off peacefully, was to press for an early wage settlement for permanent employees at the unit.

Subodh Mohite, MP demanded a CID probe into the matter. Mohite blamed Indo Rama chairman O P Lohia and HRD head H S Shekhawat for formenting trouble and demanded that they be booked for attempt to murder.

He also alleged that the local police was in cohorts with the Indo Rama management. Mohite also said that the gate meeting at Indo Rama's Butibori plant was to formally inaugurate the Shiv Sena led Indo Rama Contract Labour Union.

The company, however, in a written statement released later that night, denied this and claimed that the contract labour union was for whole of Butibori Industrial area and not for Indo Rama alone.

Without referring to the firing incident, it said that a scuffle between the "security staff and some miscreants" broke out when the management was arranging for buses.

State BJP president Nitin Gadkari too joined Mohite in demanding that O P Lohia be put behind bars. He said that the company must accept responsibility for the incident. Centre of Indian Trade Unions too has condemned the incident.

BS correspondent in Nagpur