The transport landscape in Assam is set to witness a significant disruption as a coalition of transporters’ unions has declared a 48-hour strike starting from 5 am on Friday. The strike is a response to the stringent measures outlined in the proposed Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) aimed at addressing hit-and-run incidents.
Ramen Das, the Convenor of Assam Motor Worker Associations’ Joint Platform, expressed dissatisfaction with the new legislation, stating, “The government’s focus seems to be solely on attributing blame to drivers, disregarding the need for overall road infrastructure improvement. Instead of enhancing road conditions, they are imposing severe penalties on the drivers, many of whom may not be at fault.”
Das emphasized that drivers are not intentionally involved in fatal accidents, and oftentimes, the responsibility lies with others involved in the mishap. The proposed law, according to Das, is biased against drivers and vehicle owners, prompting the call for a comprehensive strike.
Under the proposed BNS, set to replace the current Indian Penal Code (IPC), drivers causing serious road accidents due to negligence and fleeing the scene could face up to 10 years in prison or a fine of Rs 7 lakh. This marks a substantial increase from the two-year punishment stipulated in the British-era IPC.
The transporters’ coalition has extended the call to private car owners, underlining the universality of the law, applicable to both commercial and private vehicles. Das added, “This law affects everyone, regardless of whether they are driving a commercial vehicle or a private car.”
As a consequence of the impending strike, concerns are mounting across the state, with long queues forming at petrol pumps as citizens rush to fill their tanks amid fears of potential fuel shortages.
The next 48 hours are poised to be critical, as the transporters’ unions press for a withdrawal of the proposed legislation, advocating for a more balanced approach to addressing road safety concerns. The outcome of this strike could potentially shape the future discourse on road safety regulations in the country.