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UP: Hit-and-Run Norms Give Mob License to Lynch us, say Protesting Truck, Bus Drivers

The protest was called off after government assurance to AIMTC members, who mainly represent transporters. But, the ‘stringent’ new norms continue to touch a raw nerve with drivers.
Truck drivers shout slogans during their protest against the new penal provisions in the hit-and-run law, in Nagpur, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024.

Truck drivers shout slogans during their protest against the new penal provisions in the hit-and-run law, in Nagpur, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024. Image Courtesy: PTI

Barabanki/Lucknow: The nationwide protest by drivers was called off on Tuesday night following government assurance to the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) that the ‘stringent hit and run rules’ had not yet been implemented and would be done only after talks with AIMTC.

However, Kultaran Singh Atwal, chairman, AIMTC, after the meeting with Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, said the  government had made empty promises and was only buying time. “The drivers are on strike; it is not the transporters. They [the government] have not given any concrete assurance. Earlier also, our petitions were not heard. In the coming days, you will see a shortage of fuel and drivers.” 

While AIMTC mainly represents transporters, the protest by drivers on Tuesday against enhanced punishment under the new ‘hit and run’ rules continues to touch a raw nerve.

In Uttar Pradesh, where the protests were widespread and some clashes were also reported, the drivers are still upset.

"Kaun khushi se driver ban na chahta hai? Jo aarthik aur samajik roop se kamzor hote hain wahi driver jaisa khatarnak kaam chunte hain (Who wants to choose driving as a profession? Those who are economically and socially backward only choose dangerous professions like driver), said Anirudh, a truck driver who had parked his truck 15 km from Lucknow near Barabanki for the past two days. 

Anirudh, a native of Basti, was going to Punjab to load goods with a 16-wheeler truck but parked his vehicle on the way to support ongoing nationwide strike against the provision in the new penal law on hit-and-run law road accident cases.

"The manner in which the government withdrew the three agriculture laws, this law should also be repealed, as it gives a license to mobs to lynch truck and bus drivers. We hardly earn Rs 10 to 15,000 per month, that too working day and night and risking our lives. What will we do with this amount? Our children cannot afford quality education nor do we live up to standard. We are doing this job just for the sake of survival. But the government wants to put us in jail for 10 years and impose a hefty fine in the name of hit-and-run cases," Anirudh told NewsClick. 

Another driver, whose truck had written a quote in Hindi 'Khana milega kabhi-kabhi sona agle janam (You will get food sometimes, but you will get to sleep only in next birth) 

"If we don't leave and run away from the spot, the mob will kill us and if we take the injured to the hospital, the government's policy will kill the entire family alive. How will a driver earning Rs 10-15,000 per month pay Rs 10 lakh as fine? And on top of that, if he stays in jail, not only his life but his family's life will be ruined," Amit, a driver from Unnao, told NewsClick. 

Drivers of commercial vehicles, including trucks, dumpers, tankers and UP Roadways, stopped work across the state from January 1 to protest against the provision in the new penal law on hit-and-run provision.

According to the various transport union leaders, over a lakh trucks and over 3,000 buses remained off the road. The supply of essential goods was also said to have been affected in many cities.

On Tuesday, operations of Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC), as well as private buses, were hit badly due to most of the drivers being on strike, Girish Chandra Mishra, general secretary of Roadways Karmchari Sanyukt Parishad, told NewsClick.

“Buses are stranded across the state. We are trying to convince them to call off the strike as it is not the solution. First, the union representing drivers should meet the government representatives and hand over their demands. If the government does not pay heed then they can organise a protest under trade unions in a democratic way," Mishra further added. 

When asked about the loss of UPSRTC, Mishra added, "Even though the lean season is going on, the Roadways have an income of Rs 14-15 crore per day which has been lost due to the strike."

In the state capital, drivers obstructed truck traffic in Transport Nagar Lucknow, the Lucknow Kanpur route, Sitapur route, and Ayodhya Road. In order to clear the traffic, the police used a mild force to remove the trucks that were stuck on Kanpur Road to smoothen the traffic. 

Over 16,000 vehicles in Meerut were not in service on the second day of strike as the Transport Association of Meerut supported the strike.

The situation in the Chief Minister's home turf Gorakhpur was no different. The bus stand area wore a deserted look. 

Around 885 both government and private buses were unable to operate at the Gorakhpur bus station on Tuesday. In adjoining Deoria district, over 212 other buses and 89 government buses experienced breakdowns.

Prayagraj, Ayodhya, Varanasi region also virtually came to a standstill following the strike by transporters, tempo and taxi unions. 


The rule about which there is an uproar across the country is part of three new laws passed by Parliament recently. The provision in question was recently brought in by the government under the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, that replaces the British-era Indian Penal Code. 

According to the new penal law, any driver who causes the death of a person by rash and negligent driving and flees from the spot without reporting the accident to the authorities could be jailed for up to 10 years and/or be fined. 

However, protesting drivers opposed the new law, saying that they will go on indefinite strike if the government does not repeal the 'draconian law'. 

Uttar Pradesh Truck Federation union estimated that business worth Rs 1,800 crore had come to a standstill. 


The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) while noting the spontaneous outburst of the protest actions throughout the country by the road transport fraternity, has called for the deletion of stringent punitive provisions under the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS).

In a press statement, the central trade union said the anger of the workers stemmed from the “thoughtless exercise of hasty passage of the so-called Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, replacing the Indian Penal Code, and in particular, the impractical, unjust and unconstitutional provisions put therein relating to road transport accidents arbitrarily empowering executive/authority concerned to impose atrocious penalty and punitive action”

CITU general secretary Tapan Sen said the entire exercise of passing three penal legislations “was pushed through by the Government at the Centre, bulldozing any discussion in Parliament and also ignoring the consensus recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs in a brazenly authoritarian manner.”

He said there was no “meaningful debate and discussion in the Parliament leave alone public consultations and discussions with stakeholders- particularly the road transport workers unions.”

CITU said that the government, sensing the surging support for the strike among the vehicle-driving public and workers, had assured not to implement that punitive provision “but has not uttered any word to revise the same.”

It demanded that Section 104(2) be deleted from the penal statute and all stakeholders, particularly the road transport sector trade unions, be consulted on the future corrective measures on these issues.

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