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India transport workers call off protest after talks with government

India transport workers call off protest after talks with government
A man opens a valve of a fuel tanker during the refilling of an underground fuel tank, after a petrol pump ran out of fuel after shortages following a nationwide strike by truckers, which was called off on Tuesday night after talks with the government and demanded revocation of a newly enacted law imposing penalties for hit-and-run accidents, at a petrol pump in Mumbai, India, Jan 3, 2024.
PHOTO: Reuters

NEW DELHI — A strike across India involving bus, truck and tanker drivers was called off after two days following assurance from the government that new laws for hit-and-run accidents will not be implemented until further talks with union representatives.

Petrol and diesel supplies were hit across parts of the country after the strike entered the second day on Tuesday (Jan 2).

Drivers of trucks, buses, and tankers had launched a three-day strike to protest a new law that prescribes punishment of up to 10 years' imprisonment or a maximum of 700,000 rupees (S$11,144) fine for those who run away without informing authorities after causing serious road accidents.

On Tuesday, the government said it will invoke these laws only after consultation with the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) — a group of transporters that is part of the protest.

"The government wants to point out that these new laws and provisions have not yet come into force... We appeal to All India Motor Transport Congress and all the drivers to return to their respective jobs," the government said in a statement.

Protesters had said the provision, which is part of a new criminal law that will replace the colonial-era Indian Penal Code (IPC), could lead to undue harassment of drivers, local media reported.

AIMTC Chairman Bal Malkit Singh told local media all issues had been resolved after a meeting with the government, and urged drivers to resume work.

Long queues at fuel stations began to dissipate shortly after the strike was called off.

Petrol supplies were being restored in several parts of Uttar Pradesh state after running dry due to panic buying.

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