Transport strike in Assam over new hit-and-run law enters second day

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What is the strike about?

Thousands of commercial and public transport vehicles remained off the roads in Assam for the second consecutive day on Friday, as drivers and owners protested against the new hit-and-run law that came into effect from January 1, 2024. The law, which is part of the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita (BNS) that replaced the Indian Penal Code, imposes harsher penalties for drivers who cause fatal accidents and flee the scene without informing the authorities. Under the new law, such drivers can face up to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs 7 lakh.

The strike, which was called by the All Assam Motor Transport Association (AAMTA), has affected the movement of goods and passengers across the state, as well as the neighbouring states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya. The AAMTA has demanded a rollback of the new law, claiming that it is unfair and impractical. The association has also sought a meeting with the state government to discuss their grievances.

How has the strike impacted the state?

The strike has caused severe inconvenience to the people of Assam, especially those who depend on public transport for their daily commute. Many passengers were stranded at bus terminals, railway stations and airports, as buses, taxis, auto-rickshaws and app-based cabs remained off the roads. Some passengers resorted to walking or hitchhiking to reach their destinations, while others had to cancel or postpone their travel plans.

Transport strike in Assam

The strike has also hit the supply of essential commodities, such as food, fuel, medicine and LPG, in the state. Many shops and markets reported a shortage of stocks, as trucks and lorries carrying goods from other states were stopped at the border checkpoints. Some traders and consumers complained of price rise and black marketing of some items. The strike has also affected the delivery of online orders and e-commerce services.

The strike has also disrupted the normal functioning of schools, colleges, offices and other institutions, as many employees and students could not reach their workplaces and educational centres. Some institutions declared a holiday or allowed work from home arrangements for their staff and students. The strike has also hampered the tourism and hospitality sector, as many tourists and visitors faced difficulties in travelling within and outside the state.

What is the government’s response?

The state government has appealed to the transporters to call off the strike, saying that the new law is aimed at ensuring road safety and justice for the victims of hit-and-run cases. The government has also assured that it will look into the concerns of the transporters and provide them with adequate protection and compensation in case of any untoward incident.

The government has also deployed additional security forces and magistrates to maintain law and order and prevent any violence or vandalism during the strike. The government has also warned of strict action against anyone who tries to disrupt the public peace and harmony. The government has also urged the public to cooperate and avoid any unnecessary travel during the strike.

The government has also claimed that the strike has not affected the normal life in the state, as alternative arrangements have been made to facilitate the movement of people and goods. The government has said that it has arranged special buses, trains and flights for the passengers, and has also ensured the availability of essential commodities in the markets. The government has also said that it has taken steps to regulate the prices and prevent any hoarding or profiteering of goods.

What is the future of the strike?

The AAMTA has said that it will continue the strike until the government withdraws the new hit-and-run law or modifies it to make it more reasonable and realistic. The association has said that it is ready to talk to the government, but only if the government initiates the dialogue and shows a positive attitude. The association has also said that it has the support of other transport unions and associations in the state and the region.

The government has said that it is open to dialogue with the transporters, but only if they call off the strike and resume their services. The government has said that it is willing to listen to their demands and suggestions, but only within the framework of the law and the constitution. The government has also said that it will not succumb to any pressure or blackmail from any group or organisation.

The strike, which has entered its second day, has shown no signs of ending soon, as both the transporters and the government remain adamant on their stands. The strike has created a deadlock situation, with no clear solution in sight. The strike has also raised questions about the feasibility and effectiveness of the new hit-and-run law, which has been criticised by many experts and activists as being too harsh and unrealistic. The strike has also exposed the need for better road infrastructure and safety measures in the state and the country.

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