Corporate Accountability
By: Mark W Adams

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CEO murdered by mob of sacked Indian workers

"Thousands of protesters recently forced Tata to halt work on the plant being used to produce the world's cheapest car"

Corporate India is in shock after a mob of sacked workers bludgeoned to death the chief executive who had dismissed them from a factory in a suburb of Delhi.

Lalit Kishore Choudhary, 47, the head of the Indian operations of Graziano Transmissioni, an Italian-headquartered manufacturer of car parts, died of severe head wounds on Monday afternoon after being attacked by scores of laid-off employees, police said.

The incident, in Greater Noida, just outside the Indian capital, followed a long-running dispute between the factory's management and workers who had demanded better pay and permanent contracts.

It is understood that Mr Choudhary, who was married with one son, had called a meeting with more than 100 former employees - who had been dismissed following an earlier outbreak of violence at the plant - to discuss a possible reinstatement deal.

A police spokesman said: "Only a few people were called inside. About 150
people were waiting outside when they heard someone from inside shout for
help. They rushed in and the two sides clashed. The company staff were
heavily outnumbered."

Other executives said they were lucky to escape with their lives. "I just
locked my room's door from inside and prayed they would not break in. See,
my hands are trembling even three hours later," an Italian consultant,
Forettii Gatii, told a local newspaper.

More than 60 people were arrested and more than 20 were in hospital yesterday.

A spokesman for the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry
said: "Such a heinous act is bound to sully India's image among overseas

The murder has stoked fears that outbreaks of mob rule risk jeopardising the
subcontinent's economic rise.

In the most high-profile incident so far, thousands of violent protestors
recently forced Tata, the Indian conglomerate that owns Land Rover and
Jaguar, to halt work on the plant being built to produce the world's
cheapest car - the £1,250 Nano. The move could result in nearly £200 million
in investment written off.

Tata halted work three weeks ago, claiming it could not guarantee its workers
safety at the factory in the state of West Bengal. In a rare show of support
for a competitor, the billionaire industrialist Mukesh Ambani, one of
India's most powerful businessmen, said that the Nano crisis showed how
protestors were creating a "a fear-psychosis to slow-down certain projects
of national importance."

Other companies, including Vedenta, the London-listed mining company, have
encountered similar problems in India.

In a statement issued from Rivoli in Italy, Graziano said that some of Mr
Choudhary's attackers had no connection to the company. It added that the
chief executive was killed by "serious head injuries caused by the

"We absolutely condemn the attack," Marcello Lamberto, the head of Oerlikon
Segment Drive Systems, which owns Graziano, said.

"This is by no means a regular labour conflict but is truly criminal action.
The whole of Oerlikon Group is close to the family of Mr Chaudhary in this
terrible moment."