Bangalore: Truck and Lorry Owners in Karnataka on Friday has threatened to intensify their agitation if the state government invoked ESMA.
Once ESMA is invoked, truckers can be arrested and their vehicles can be run by the government to keep supply of essential commodities moving.
The agitating workers said they were ready to face punitive action and be imprisoned but they would not withdraw the strike till their demands were met, T Babu, general secretary, Federation of Goods Trucks Association, said.
He said 3.6 lakh vehicles were off the road owing to the strike which began on Sunday midnight to press their demands, including reduction in diesel prices by Rs10 and exemption from toll and service tax.
The supply of vegetables and other essential items have not been obstructed, he said.
All India Transporters Welfare Association (AITWA) declared a nationwide indefinite strike since Sunday midnight along with All India Motor Transport Congress, in which over 60 lakh truckers have participated, demanding lower diesel prices, reduction of toll taxes and abolition of service taxes among others.
So far five states - Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh - have invoked ESMA and more states are likely to implement the law to ensure smooth supply of essential commodities.
On Friday, in a sign of bitter stand-off between the government and striking truckers, the AITWA said in New Delhi, its general secretary, Ramesh Gulati, has been arrested in the national capital under the Essential Supplies Maintenance Act.
“Without any prior intimation, the Delhi Police came and arrested Gulati from his Dwarka Residence under ESMA Act,” AITWA president Ramesh Agarwal said.
When contacted by PTI, a Delhi Police spokesperson, who neither confirmed nor denied the arrest, said “we are yet to receive the updated information.”
Meanwhile, the transporters entered the fifth day of their strike on Friday following a deadlock between the government and truckers.
The Centre has also advised states to act tough on truckers and invoke Essential Commodities Act and National Security Act and impound trucks, if needed.