Changes In Hit-And-Run Law That Has Led To Nationwide Protests

The New Year started with massive traffic jams and long queues at petrol pumps, with citizens taking to social media to share images and videos. In some cities, ambulances were stuck in traffic for hours. The cause: a nationwide protest against the new hit-and-run law by truck drivers.

Drivers on Monday launched a three-day protest, blocking highways and several other key roads across the country. Not only have the protests led to traffic jams but fears that fuel may soon run out has prompted citizens to rush to their nearest petrol pump.

The truck drivers are voicing dissent against the hit-and-run law in the new Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, the criminal code that will replace the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The new law has raised the penalty in road accident cases to up to 10 years. In the Indian penal code, accidentally killing a person in a road accident had a maximum jail term of 2 years.

Whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine,” states the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita.

If the offender escapes or fails to report the incident immediately, the imprisonment term can extend up to ten years, along with a fine of ₹ 7 lakh.

The protesting truck drivers believe that the new law is draconian and biased against larger vehicles.

“As per the new law, the hit-and-run cases can attract up to 10 years jail term and a fine of ₹ 7 lakh. We are drivers, how can we pay such a big fine amount?,” says Syed Wajed, a tanker driver protesting in Maharashtra.

The protesters have also expressed concern about potential mob violence against drivers who choose to transport the injured to hospitals.  

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The drivers participating in the strike include truckers, private bus drivers, and even government bus drivers in some cases. On social media, people have claimed that cab drivers have also joined the protest in some states

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