Police say armed stable workers run riot at meet convened to sign salary pact

Negotiations for remuneration of workers at the Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) turned violent on Wednesday evening as three managers of the club were allegedly assaulted by members of a union representing jamadars, farriers, riding boys and syces.

According to the police, around 7 p.m., a large group of stable workers assaulted horse owners S.N. Choudhary (43), Arun Kumar (42) and Chetan with rods, canes and even knives at the BTC stables. The trio suffered severe injuries, and were admitted to a nearby hospital.

“The group of men, whom we had never seen before at the club, then came towards the main block where we were holding a meeting and threatened us,” said Arvind Raghavan, BTC managing committee member.

‘Outside elements'

Mr. Raghavan and other members of the Karnataka Horse Racing Owners Association alleged that “outside elements” were called in by the Karnataka Race Kudhure Karmikara Kshemabhivrudhi Sangha (KRKKKS) — which represents the stable workers — to disrupt a meeting convened by BTC to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU).

A few police officials were overseeing the meeting but additional personnel were called in to disperse the mob. Police said around 50 people could be involved.

“Twenty-five people have been taken into custody and we have made a list of 15 more, who will be shortly arrested,” said Deputy Commission of Police (Central) G. Ramesh.

Three-month strike

The memorandum of understanding, which increases the salary given to stable workers, while offering them arrears and benefits, was a result of a three-month strike by KRKKKS that had led to the cancelling and deferring of derbies late last year.

Though the MoU was in principle accepted by members of both organisations at a meeting held on Tuesday, Mr. Raghavan alleged that the KRKKKS leaders decided to backtrack and add more demands. And to force the demands, they planned the assault, he said.

“The fact that the attackers had brought knives and weapons shows that it was a planned operation. Moreover, the KRKKKS leaders abruptly got up and left the meeting moments before the group of men barged into the meeting hall,” Mr. Raghavan said.