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India

Nationwide Protests Erupt Against New Hit-and-Run Law; Transporters Demand Revisions

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Transport associations and drivers from various states in India have taken to the streets to protest against the recently enacted hit-and-run law in Maharashtra. The law, which imposes a hefty 7-10-year prison sentence on errant drivers, has triggered widespread demonstrations, causing inconvenience to the public.

The protests, notably in Nagpur and Madhya Pradesh, saw private bus and truck drivers enforcing a ‘chakka jam’ (traffic jam), disrupting normalcy and leading to long queues at petrol pumps.

Gyansingh Yadav, a cab driver, expressed his concerns, saying, “We are not against any government or law, but I feel some amendments should be made, especially about the penal provisions against drivers. The new law attracts a 10-year prison term for errant drivers. I feel it should be reduced to 1-2 years.”

Similar sentiments were echoed in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, where bus drivers staged a demonstration, leaving buses grounded and affecting around 1,000 buses across the state.

One protesting bus driver stated, “We are poor people. Penal action should be taken against the owners of our vehicles. This law is unfair on us, and we’ll continue to be on strike till our demands are met.”

The contentious law, known as the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita (BNS), replaced the Indian Penal Code, increasing the penalties for drivers causing serious road accidents by negligent driving and fleeing the scene without informing authorities. Under the BNS, drivers can now face up to 10 years in prison or a fine of Rs7 lakh, whereas the earlier punishment under the IPC was two years.

Private transport operators argue that the law discourages drivers and may expose them to potential mob violence when attempting to transport the injured to hospitals. They are calling for a repeal of the law, expressing concerns about its potential for unjust punishments.

(with ANI inputs)

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