The nationwide transportation strike continued into its second day on Tuesday (January 2), leading to extended lines at petrol pumps due to disrupted fuel supply throughout the country. The three-day strike, initiated by truck, bus, and tanker drivers, aims to oppose the rigorous imprisonment and fine provisions introduced in the recently implemented Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita (BNS) concerning hit-and-run incidents.
What are the reasons behind the drivers' protest against the new regulations? Let's assess the causes and consequences of the ongoing strike in this article.
What does the new law say?
In the new law that replaced the old Indian Penal Code, if a driver causes a serious accident by careless driving and then leaves without telling the police or any government official, they can be punished with up to 10 years in jail or a fine of Rs 7 lakh.
The specific section of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita reads, “Whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine."
Why such outrage over the new law?
At first glance, the law seems fair and in the right spirit to punish deaths caused by rash driving and avoid casualties due to delay in medical help. However, why are the truck drivers so vehemently outraged by it?
Here's the reason.
Private transport operators argue that the law discourages drivers and might result in unfair punishments. They also contend that drivers could face the risk of mob violence when trying to transport the injured to hospitals, and they advocate for the repeal of the law.
All India Motor & Goods Transport Association President, Rajendra Kapoor, told news agency ANI, “Our only demand from the government is that the decision should have been taken after having consultations with our stakeholders. There was no discussion with anyone on this, and no one was asked about this. There should have been prior meetings and consultations.”
“The protest has been announced by the members of All India Motor & Goods Transport Association. There should be a discussion on this issue. A misleading situation is created now. People are not completely aware of the new law," he added.
Truckers' strike impact felt across country
Since Monday (January 1st), demonstrators have blocked roads and highways in states such as Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh, disrupting both vehicle traffic and fuel supply. For instance, a transporters' association asserted on Tuesday that the strike had affected the movement of nearly five lakh vehicles in Madhya Pradesh. Long lines were observed at petrol pumps in various states, including Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra.
Protesters on Monday blocked highways in various districts of Gujarat, including Kheda, Valsad, Gir Somnath, Bharuch, and Mehsana, through the strategic placement of vehicles and the establishment of barricades.
In Maharashtra, truck drivers disrupted traffic on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway in the Mira Bhayandar area of Thane district. During the incident, they threw stones at police officers, resulting in injuries to one policeman. Additionally, a police vehicle sustained damage due to the stone pelting.
Officials reported road blockade protests occurring in districts such as Solapur, Kolhapur, Nagpur, and Gondia. They added that the situation in Navi Mumbai and other areas is currently manageable.