India arrests after riot at Maruti plant

The aftermath of the riot at the Maruti Suzuki factory near the Indian capital

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At least 90 people have been arrested after violent clashes between workers and managers at a Maruti Suzuki factory near the Indian capital, Delhi.

A senior factory official died and more than 85 were injured, including two Japanese nationals, in the riot at the Manesar plant on Wednesday evening.

Maruti, India's biggest car maker, has halted production at the factory.

At the scene

A charred bicycle, partly-burned worker gloves, some smashed car door parts lie strewn at Gate 2 - the main entrance of Maruti Suzuki's factory in Manesar. Production is now halted and the gate is being guarded by policemen.

India's largest car maker Maruti Suzuki was one of the first car companies to set up here. Many ancillary units followed them. Now Haryana is considered one of the foremost car-making hubs in India.

But labour issues have long been a concern here. Companies have been asking for India's old labour laws to be reformed for some time now.

There has been a lot of speculation about what triggered these protests, but most observers believe it is linked to a disagreement over wages and employee contracts.

Most industries get around the strict labour laws by employing more contract labourers or outsourcing to an agency.

Managers and workers blame each other for starting the clashes, which follow months of troubled labour relations.

The violence at the vast factory in Haryana state is believed to have erupted after an altercation between a factory worker and a supervisor.

Workers reportedly ransacked offices and set fires at the height of the violence. It escalated when they tried to take disciplinary action against the employee as other workers protested and blocked all exit gates, preventing senior executives and managers from leaving the factory.

The union denied responsibility for the violence and told local media that it was triggered by "objectionable remarks" made by the supervisor

Dozens of staff, both management and shop-floor workers, were taken to a nearby hospital.

Maruti company officials have also told the BBC that more than 50 senior manager level staff are still in hospital. The manager who died has been named as Awinash Dev, a human resources official.

Security has now been tightened at the plant, which employs more than 2,000 people and produces more than 1,000 of Maruti's top-selling cars every day, accounting for about a third of its annual production.

Maruti Suzuki, a joint venture between Maruti and Japan's Suzuki Motor Corporation, has a 50% share of India's booming car market.

It has been hit by a series of strikes since June 2011, when workers went on a 13-day strike demanding the recognition of a new union.

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