Several students and faculty members of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University and Jamia Millia Islamia staged a demonstration outside Haryana Bhawan here on Sunday to protest against the arrest of sacked Maruti workers in Kaithal.

The Maruti workers, who were holding a peaceful sit-in at Kaithal since March 24, were arrested late on May 18.

The protestors had been staging a ‘dharna’ in Kaithal as it is the constituency of Haryana Minister for Industries and Commerce Randeep Singh Surjewala. They have been demanding their reinstatement and immediate release of 151 workers arrested in connection with the violence at the Maruti plant at Manesar on July 18 last.

The protesters at Haryana Bhawan here condemned the State repression on Maruti workers and activists who were legitimately demanding their rights. The protesting students and faculty members demanded release of the arrested workers and implementation of labour laws.

More than a hundred sacked Maruti workers holding a sit-in at Kaithal were arrested by the Haryana Police around 11-30 p.m. on May 18 just hours before their scheduled demonstration on Sunday in which a large number of locals and more Maruti workers were supposed to take part. The local administration had clamped prohibitory orders under Section 144 in Kaithal. Several people, including Communist Party of India (Marxist) municipal councillor Prem Chand, were injured in a clash with the police later in the day when they were stopped from reaching the city for the proposed demonstration.

Condemning the police action, CPI (M) State secretary Inderjit Singh, said: “As per the reports reaching us through our workers, the police resorted to lathi-charge and lobbed tear gas shells to prevent the demonstrators from gathering in the city. A large number of people were injured and arrested. Those arrested were kept at the police stations for long without medical aid.” Mr. Singh also criticised the “more and more blind misuse” of the police force by Haryana Government to suppress the genuine protests of various sections of people opposing the misrule of the Congress Government.

The Haryana units of the All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) and Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) have also strongly decried the arrest of sacked Maruti workers at Kaithal. Terming the arrest of demonstrators an “attack on democratic rights”, CITU Haryana general secretary Satbir Singh and AITUC Gurgaon general secretary Anil Kumar regretted the way the Haryana Government imposed Section 144 in Kaithal and made arrests denying the Maruti workers their right to peaceful protest.

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