Maruti Probe Narrows to 11 Union Leaders, Police Says

Indian authorities probing last week’s violence at Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. (MSIL) are narrowing their manhunt to 11 labor union leaders for their roles in starting a deadly riot, a police officer involved in the matter said.

Arrest warrants have been issued for the 11 men --including Ram Meher, president of the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union -- as they have become the focus of the investigation, the person said yesterday, asking not to be identified because he isn’t authorized to speak to the media. None of those prime suspects are in custody, the person said.

A general manager was killed and dozens of managers injured in last week’s incident at Maruti Suzuki’s plant in Manesar -- the most violent riot in the company’s history. The current stoppage is the carmaker’s fourth in the past year at the factory, which accounts for about 40 percent of total manufacturing capacity.

Puneet Dhawan, spokesman at Maruti Suzuki, said the company has filed a complaint against 55 people. Of those, five are in custody for questioning, the police official said.

S.A.S. Zaidi, public relations officer for Haryana Police, didn’t respond to six calls to his mobile phone.

Meher hasn’t responded to calls to his mobile phone since sending a July 19 statement saying that the dispute started when a Maruti supervisor insulted a union worker because of his caste.

K.K. Sindhu, police commissioner of Gurgaon district in Haryana, the home state of Maruti’s Manesar plant, said July 23 authorities aren’t pursuing pressing charges against all of the plant’s 3,000 union workers -- a pledge made by Deputy Commissioner Maheswar Dayal days earlier -- and is mainly detaining employees to obtain information about the incident.

The government of Haryana on July 23 appointed K.T.S. Tulsi, a former additional solicitor general of India, as special prosecutor to help build and argue the case against union workers.

To contact the reporters on this story: Karthikeyan Sundaram in New Delhi at kmeenakshisu@bloomberg.net; Siddharth Philip in Mumbai at sphilip3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at ycho2@bloomberg.net; Neil Denslow at ndenslow@bloomberg.net

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