By Abhishek Jha:
At least three persons were injured when protesters distributing pamphlets for boycotting Honda products were allegedly roughed up by staff at a Honda showroom in Jaipur in the afternoon of October 5. Terminated and suspended workers from HMSI’s (Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India) Tapukara plant had called for protest demonstrations in front of Honda showrooms across the country asking for boycotting Activa and Shine scooters made by Honda.
Since September 19, five workers of a proposed union at the factory have been on a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar. They are demanding the reinstatement of around 3000 workers of the factory that were terminated or suspended following a strike on February 16, the withdrawal of allegedly false cases slapped against them following the strike, and the registration of their union.
This was the second call for boycott given by the protesting workers. A protest at Honda showrooms had taken place on September 26. The workers claimed in a press release that demonstrations against Honda management and asking for product boycott took place at as many as 30 cities across the country, including all metro cities.
In Jaipur the protesters were allegedly beaten up by staff at the Satnam Honda showroom located at Main Tonk road. A video clip released by the workers shows a mob beating up two persons. One person in the mob is seen using footwear to beat up the protester. Shailendra Kumar, an injured protester, told YKA over phone that they were peacefully distributing pamphlets when staff from the showroom came out to threaten them and subsequently beat them up. He said that while several people were beaten up, three persons- Suresh Kumar, Shailendra Kumar, and Shri Bhagwan- have sustained visible injuries. They have been taken to the Jaipuria Hospital.
Chetan Singh, a manager at the showroom when asked about the scuffle, told YKA that he did know the details of the incident as it took place outside the showroom. He said that he came to know of it when a crowd gathered and the police had arrived.
In Delhi, Parag Bannerjee, a student protester from JNU, claimed that two protesting workers of the Tapukara plant were held by staff outside the Samara Honda showroom located at Bhikaji Cama Place, where they had gone to distribute pamphlets. Navjot Singh, a sales manager at the showroom, said they had stopped the persons because they could not produce identification cards and were clicking pictures of a woman employee of the showroom. Kannagi Tripathi, another student protester, however contested Singh’s claim. She told YKA the workers were taking pictures of her distributing the pamphlet to the Honda employee to document the protest.
The workers on hunger-strike for 17 days now have not been given any reassurances or invited for any negotiation by either the government or the HMSI management despite representations made to union labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya. Vipin Kumar on hunger-strike lost consciousness for the second time on October 5. He was taken to a hospital but refused to break the hunger-strike. Daily press released from the workers claim that doctors have noted their health to have deteriorated severely over time. The five workers have lost 12 to 15 kg weight each. The blood sugar levels have gone below the minimum sugar levels for two workers and blood ketone levels have gone higher.