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Business News/ News / India/  Truck drivers' protest: All you need to know about nationwide protest by truckers
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Truck drivers' protest: All you need to know about nationwide protest by truckers

Truck drivers' protest: Truck drivers in India have been protesting against the recently implemented Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), which includes increased penalties for hit-and-run incidents.

Truck drivers' protest: Truckers protesting on Agra-Lucknow Expressway in Mainpuri. (HT) (HT_PRINT)Premium
Truck drivers' protest: Truckers protesting on Agra-Lucknow Expressway in Mainpuri. (HT) (HT_PRINT)

Truck drivers' protest: The widespread demonstrations carried out by truck drivers across India have arisen from their resistance to the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), a recently enacted criminal code.

The focal point of contention within this legal structure pertains to the increased penalties for hit-and-run incidents, a provision vehemently criticized by truckers who refer to it as a “kaala kanoon" or “black law." Here is a comprehensive overview of the protests and how they were terminated.

Why did the protest start?

Truck drivers protested against the recently implemented Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), the new criminal code, which includes heightened penalties for hit-and-run cases.

Truckers labelled the recently introduced legal provision for hit-and-run incidents in the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita, which has faced opposition from truckers in various states, as a “kaala kanoon" (black law).

According to the new BNS provision, “Whoever causes the death of any person by rash and negligent driving of vehicle not amounting to culpable homicide, and escapes without reporting it to a police officer or a magistrate soon after the incident, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description of a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine."

Jammu: Oil tankers parked at a ground during a protest by All Jammu and Kashmir Oil Tankers Association in Jammu, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024. Truckers are protesting against the provision in the new penal law regarding hit-and-run road accident cases involving motorists. (PTI Photo)
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Jammu: Oil tankers parked at a ground during a protest by All Jammu and Kashmir Oil Tankers Association in Jammu, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024. Truckers are protesting against the provision in the new penal law regarding hit-and-run road accident cases involving motorists. (PTI Photo) (PTI)

The updated provisions now entail a potential 10-year jail term or a fine of 7 lakh if a truck driver leaves the scene of an accident without reporting it to the authorities.

This marks a significant increase compared to the previous Indian Penal Code (IPC), where the punishment for such offences was limited to 2-year imprisonment.

Ye kanoon abhi tak laagu nahi hai (This law has not been implemented yet) ... Ham ye kanoon laagu nahi hone denge (We will not allow these laws to be implemented)," AIMTC Chairman-organising committee Bal Mankit Singh said.

Also Read: Truck drivers' protest: THESE states, cities say they have adequate fuel stock- 'Don't panic buy'

The new provisions have triggered strikes by drivers in several states, including Maharashtra, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

Approximately 2,000 petrol pumps, primarily located in western and northern India, faced fuel shortages as a result of an ongoing truckers' strike, PTI reported. Despite state-owned oil companies proactively replenishing fuel reserves at numerous petrol pumps nationwide in anticipation of the strike, certain stations in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Punjab experienced depleted stocks due to heightened demand, as reported by industry officials.

What does the data on road accidents in India say?

The number of road accidents in India went up by an alarming 12 per cent to over 4.6 lakh in 2022, resulting in the death of 19 persons every hour, according to a recent report by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH).

The report showed that 53 road accidents occur every hour in the country.

"A total of 4,61,312 road accidents have been reported by states and Union Territories (UTs) during the calendar year 2022, which claimed 1,68,491 lives and caused injuries to 4,43,366 persons.

Also Read: Truck drivers strike: Rahul Gandhi takes ‘Shehanshah Ke Farmaan’ dig at govt, says ‘law can have fatal…

"This marks an increase of 11.9 per cent in accidents, 9.4 per cent in fatalities, and 15.3 per cent in injuries compared to the previous year," the report titled 'Road accidents in India -- 2022' said.

‘Hit from Back’ accounted for the largest share in total accident deaths (19.5 per cent) in 2022, followed by 'Hit and Run' and 'Head on Collision' which accounted for 18.1 per cent and 15.7 per cent, respectively.

How the protest is being called off?

Following a discussion with Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, the All India Motor Transport Association (AIMTC) has chosen to conclude the countrywide truck drivers' protests opposing the recently implemented hit-and-run law.

Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said, “The government wants to point out that these new laws and provisions have not yet come into force. We would also like to point out that the decision to invoke Section 106 (2) of the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita will be taken only after consultation with the All India Motor Transport Congress," he said after a meeting with a delegation of the AIMTC.

Bhalla said the government has taken cognisance of the concerns of truckers regarding the provision of 10 years imprisonment and fine and held a detailed discussion with the representatives of the All India Motor Transport Congress over the issue.

Also Read: Truck drivers' protests called off after government assurances on new hit-and-run law

Meanwhile, PTI reported citing a home ministry spokesperson said the government also assured the delegation of agitating truckers that it is ready to consider with an “open heart" all their concerns, and appealed to them to return to work.

The spokesperson for the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) characterized the meeting as “successful."

Following their discussion with the Home Secretary, AIMTC representatives informed the press that they would resist the enforcement of the new laws.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Published: 03 Jan 2024, 06:42 AM IST
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