Six workers in India were arrested on murder charges following the death of 60-year-old North Brook Jute Mill CEO HK Maheswari. Approximately 200 workers from the jute mill in West Bengal, India attacked the company head with iron rods and stones on Sunday. He succumbed to injuries in the ambulance before arriving at the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
The attack was the result of a longstanding dispute between workers and management at the mill. The workers at North Brook Jute Mill had requested a move from 25-hour work weeks to 40-hour work weeks but were denied the increase. In a move that added to growing tensions, jute mill CEO Maheswari had recently announced that the mill would be closing for three days a week to help the company cut their mounting financial losses.
The angry mob of workers collected while company heads were in a meeting on Sunday. The workers began throwing rocks at the window and Maheswari approached the window to look out. He was hit with two rocks and collapsed. The workers then stormed the room and Maheswari was beaten to death with metal rods and stones.
Another manager who was in attendance along with the company’s security guard who had arrived on the scene in an attempt to control the chaos were also attacked and hospitalized.
Following the attack, West Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee released a statement blaming politically backed labor unions for encouraging and inciting violent measures. The opposition party denied any involvement in the attacks and requested an independent investigation.
According to Banerjee, the violence was incited by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) “goons.” Trinamool Congress leader Partha Chatterjee echoed the sentiment and added that the opposing party has developed a conspiracy to halt the development process in Bengal.
Trinamool released a statement calling the murder of the CEO condemnable. He claimed that the CPI(M) and the BJP instigated the attack and that it was a pre-planned conspiracy. According to him, the CPI(M) and the BJP are attempting to disturb peace in the state Bengal and stop development progress.
Banerjee added that BJP leaders have been attempting to incite violence since they came to power at the Centre after the Lok Sabha election. According to Banerjee, it was a member of the CPI(M) and BJP parties who had also killed four workers in Raidighi in the South 24-Paganas district. He said that his government is prepared to fight against the CPI(M) and BJP parties, who he claims are committing acts of terrorism on their state which had been “known for peace and harmony.”
Work at North Brook Jute Mill has been suspended indefinitely as local police investigate. The superintendent of the local police department, Sunil Chowdhury, released a statement that 12 of the 200 workers involved in the attack have been identified and more arrests are expected to follow later in the week as the investigation progresses.
By Nicci Mende