August 20, 2016 7:25:08 pm
Supply of petrol and diesel across Jammu and Kashmir was suspended on Saturday as all the 2,200 oil tankers plying in the state went on indefinite strike in protest over alleged attacks on them by stone pelting mobs in the troubled Valley.
Nearly 400 tankers have been damaged in stone pelting and a number of its drivers injured ever since the outbreak of violence in Valley nearly one and a half month ago, said Anan Sharma, president of the J&K Petrol Tankers Association and J&K Pump Owners Association. Nearly two dozen tankers and trucks were damaged and two drivers injured at Bijbehara just two days ago, he said, adding that both the injured drivers were hospitalized.
Demanding compensation for damaged tankers and ex-gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh each to the injured drivers, Sharma said that trouble began few days ago after police stopped movement of tankers carrying petroleum supplies to the Valley during night. However, during the day, they had been an easy target for stone pelters as they moved without any protective cover from security forces or the police, he pointed out.
As the continuation of their strike is likely to add to the sufferings of the people in troubled Valley, the administration has begun negotiations with the agitating petrol tanker operators. They, however, demanded that the government compensate for the damage caused to tankers and injuries to their drivers, besides providing them security cover while making supplies in the Valley.
The strike by oil tankers operators was part of a decision by the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry to observe bandh on Saturday to send a loud and clear message that the voices of azadi emanating from Valley don’t represent the view point of people of Jammu and Ladakh. However, a few hours after giving the bandh call, Chamber deferred its decision saying that some “influential” civil society members in Kashmir have sought reasonable time to convince stake holders there for participation in intra-regional dialogue to arrive at some consensus for lasting peace in the state.
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