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New Hit-And-Run Law Sparks Nationwide Truck Drivers’ Protest

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New Year in India was marked by extensive traffic jams and queues at petrol pumps, resulting from a nationwide truck driver protest against the impending Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) Bill, set to replace the existing Indian Penal Code (IPC). 

Full Story: 

The New Law:

The heart of the protests lies in the introduction of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, which seeks to replace the existing Indian Penal Code. This bill, expected to come into effect in April 2024 pending presidential approval, specifically revises the hit-and-run law. Previously, the Indian Penal Code capped the maximum sentence for unintentional death in a car accident at two years. However, the BNS Bill extends this sentence to a maximum of ten years, accompanied by a significant ₹7 lakh fine for those who flee the scene or fail to report the crime promptly.

What is India's new hit-and-run law? Why has it led to nationwide protests?

Source: Firstpost

Widespread Protests Across the Nation:

The truck drivers’ discontent has ignited widespread protests across India, drawing participation from various driver communities, including private and government bus operators. Social media reports indicate the involvement of taxi drivers in certain states as well. The protests have taken the form of “rasta roko” demonstrations, blocking major highways and roads. In some instances, these protests have turned violent, as witnessed in the Thane district’s Mira Bhayandar area, where clashes with the police led to injuries. Other affected areas include Solapur, Kolhapur, Nagpur, Gondia, Chhattisgarh, Raipur, Bilaspur, Durg, Rajnandgaon, Hooghly in West Bengal, Moga, Bhopal, and various parts of Maharashtra.

2,000 petrol pumps run dry in western and northern India as truck drivers  strike against new hit-and-run law -

Source: Business Today

Impact on Petrol Supply and Panic Buying:

One notable repercussion of the protests is the panic buying of petrol, causing long queues at fuel stations across several states, including Nagpur, Thane, Jalgaon, Dhulia, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Jammu. The heightened demand has led to some petrol stations running out of supply, with managers considering posting ‘No Petrol’ notices. In Nashik, tanker drivers have halted operations, exacerbating the situation. The Mumbai Petrol Pump Association has expressed concerns about maintaining petrol stocks due to panic buying.

Truckers call off stir after Centre says new law on hit-and-run cases only  after consultation | India News - The Indian Express

Drivers’ Demands:

Driver groups and activists across the nation have begun responding to the bill, emphasizing concerns about its potential biases and lack of clarity. The All-India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), the largest truckers’ organization in the country, has appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, urging swift action to address the issues raised by protesters. AIMTC emphasizes the need for constructive dialogue with the government to find a fair resolution. Meanwhile, the Indian Gig Workers Front (IGWF) has sought clarification on the law’s classification as a bailable offense, advocating for continued bail provisions.


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