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Updated January 9th, 2024 at 16:00 IST

Kashmir in Turmoil: Transport Standstill as Drivers Protest Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita

The protest is a response to the recently enacted Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, which imposes stringent measures for hit-and-run cases, including a Rs 7 lakh penalty

Zeenat Zeeshan Fazil
Transport Chaos in Kashmir as Drivers Protest against Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita
Kashmir Transport Chaos: Drivers Protest Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita | Image:Republic
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Jammu & Kashmir:  In the Kashmir Valley, half of the passenger vehicles have joined the ‘Steering Chodo Andolan’ (Hands-off-the-Wheel Movement), causing widespread disruptions and leaving commuters stranded and perplexed.

The protest is a response to the recently enacted Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, which has legalized stringent measures for hit-and-run cases, imposing an Rs Seven lakh penalty and a 10-year jail term.

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Hundreds of transporters were seen gathered at the ‘Parimpora Bus Stand’ in the outskirts of Srinagar, expressing vehement objections to a newly proposed section in the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita bill.

The controversial clause stipulates that an individual could face a maximum penalty of 10 years if they flee the scene of an accident. This has led to an unusual calm in a city known for its hustle and bustle, as public transport systems, including buses and taxis, have been severely affected, causing extensive delays and cancellations.

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The impetus behind the strike is the fear among drivers about the severe consequences outlined in the new legislation. 

Commercial vehicle drivers present at the bus stand voiced their concerns, emphasizing the financial burden and the potential disruption to their families' livelihoods. “Government officially should withdraws the law, we have families to support, and some of us have kids aged 2-4 years old. Neither do we have Rs 10 lakh to pay as penalties," said Farooq Ahmed, a distressed commercial vehicle driver.

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Shabir Ahmed Bhat, another driver, described the legislation as a “black law” unfairly targeting drivers, creating an atmosphere of fear and apprehension among the community. The impact of the protest has not been limited to transport alone, many markets witnessed closures as shop owners joined the movement, showing solidarity with the transporters.

Pertinently, Chairman All Kashmir Transporters’ Confederation, Mohammad Shafi Mir had announced that the ongoing strike, known as the 'Steering Chodo Andolan,' is a collective effort supported by transporters in Maharashtra, New Delhi and various other states.

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In a mutually agreed decision, Kashmir-based transporters confederation has decided to extend its cooperation to this movement.

Mir said ‘Steering Chodo Andolan' will be observed by all types of passenger vehicles on both January 9 and January 10.

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Published January 9th, 2024 at 16:00 IST

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