Truckers’ protests spark fuel crisis fears across India as new motorist law looms

Truck Drivers Strike in Maharashtra [Photo: ANI]

New Delhi: Fuel pumps in several Indian states are experiencing long queues, not due to impending price hikes, but due to panic buying driven by concerns over potential disruptions in supply caused by truckers’ protests.

Protests have erupted in various states, including Bihar, Punjab, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh, against the implementation of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, a new criminal code set to replace the colonial-era Indian Penal Code.

The protests stem from high penalties for hit-and-run accidents under the new law, which could lead to up to 10 years in jail and a Rs7 lakh fine. Truckers, cab drivers, and other commercial vehicle operators fear the financial burden imposed by such penalties in the event of an accident. The president of the All Punjab Truck Operators’ Union has labeled the law a “black law” that threatens the livelihoods of truckers in the region.

The impact of the protests is already affecting the supply lines, with tanker drivers participating in the strike. This has led to a fuel crisis in several cities, and concerns are rising about potential shortages in the coming days. Additionally, protests have disrupted various sectors, including tourism in Himachal and school bus operations in Maharashtra.

Protesters are demanding amendments to the law, particularly regarding the harsh penal provisions against drivers. They argue that a 10-year prison term for errant drivers is excessive and should be reduced to 1-2 years. The unrest has resulted in road blockades, attacks on police, and clashes in different parts of the country as truck operators voice their concerns about the new legislation.

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