Employees continue to line up in front of police station to file complaints
Thiruvananthapuram: The city police, on Tuesday, searched the premises of a Technopark-based software firm and its subsidiary companies which are being investigated on the charge of cheating its employees.
Nearly 50 persons, most of them engineering and computer application graduates, had given complaints to the police accusing their employers (the owners of Aryan Infoway and Aryan Dream Digital and Animation Studio) of cheating them of Rs.1 lakh each.
Several more, chiefly the firm’s employees hailing from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, are waiting in front of the Thampanoor station for the police to record their complaints. The number of complainants can exceed 100 in the coming days, the police said.
A police team, led by Assistant Commissioner, Fort, K.C. Sasikumar, and Circle Inspector E.N. Suresh, inspected the firm’s offices.
Investigators are searching for the companies’ promoters, including its 28-year-old chief executive officer, Harikrishnan, against whom they have registered a case of cheating.
The police have booked his brother Jayakrishnan, father, Karunkaran Nair, and mother, Malika S. Nair, on the charge of cheating. An investigator said the firm’s promoters had diverted the money collected from its employees and invested heavily in real estate in Kottayam district.
They had allegedly bought large tracts of ecologically important wetlands, which local authorities prevented from being used for construction.
The company recruited over 600 employees, most of them over the past three years, as software engineers from colleges in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
The police said that at the time of recruitment, the company made its employees deposit Rs.1 lakh as “share investment” in the firm.
The face value of a single share was Rs.100. The firm told the employees that the current value of a company share was Rs.99,900. Investigators suspect that the firm’s management had exaggerated the share value to win the confidence of its prospective employees.
The firm made them sign an undertaking (on a Rs.50 stamp paper) that they would work for the company for a minimum three years.
The firm said that at the time of leaving the company after the minimum service period, the employees would be paid Rs.99,900 (the value of the company’s share). Any employee who violated the minimum service bond would be paid only Rs.100, just the face value.
New recruits had to undergo a six-month training during which they would be paid Rs.5,000 as stipend. Many of the complainants said the so-called training was for name’s sake. The firm had no experienced teachers or latest training software.
After training, the recruits were put on probation for six months, during which period they were given Rs.7,000 as salary. The company paid a “trained” software engineer Rs.10,000 monthly.
The employees said they had been receiving their salary only once every two months for a year.
The trouble started when the company closed its offices allegedly without informing its employees. On September 8, the company had announced a three-day holiday for Onam. It asked its employees to report for duty on September 14.
The employees started agitating when the company’s offices remained closed even after October 4.
Many of the employees had taken loans or pawned their jewellery to pay the money demanded by the firm at the time of recruitment.