Majid Kapra

Panic at fuel stations in Kashmir as truckers’ strike hits supplies in many states

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Srinagar: Braving extreme cold, people across Kashmir on Monday flocked to fuel stations in a panic to stock petrol and diesel fearing that the nationwide strike by truckers against the modified criminal legislation would spark a fuel crisis in the valley.

Chaotic scenes were witnessed on fuel stations in Srinagar and other parts of the valley since early morning, with people fighting over who gets their vehicle filled first.

Despite assurances by the fuel station owners that there was plenty of fuel on hand and there was nothing to worry about, people were reluctant to leave the venue without filling up their cars.

Many people not only loaded their automobiles to the brim but also carried empty bottles and jerry cans to store as much petrol as possible.

“I hurried to the nearby fuel station with my brother to fill up my car after learning that truckers had called for a nationwide strike; thought it’s better to stay ahead before fuel crisis hits the valley too,” Ovais Ali, a visibly perplexed motorist from Theed Harwan area of Srinagar told ‘Kashmir Images’.

Similar scenes were witnessed at other fuel stations of Srinagar where people could be seen pushing and shoving each other to lay hands on “their share”.

Meanwhile, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Vijay Kumar Bidhuri, debunked rumours regarding a possible fuel crisis in the valley, saying the administration will not hold back from taking legal action in case the situation gets beyond control.

Div Com urged the public to exercise patience and pay no attention to rumours, as there is currently an ample stock of fuel, including diesel, LPG, kerosene, and petrol, available in Kashmir.

“Every morning I wake up to messages informing me of the stock levels of rice, petrol, LPG, kerosene and power situation as also how many transformers have been repaired and reinstalled. And these matters are monitored daily,” Div Com told the media at his office here.

While petrol, Div Com said, is available in the valley for the next 21 days, diesel is for 24 days. He said LPG will be available for the next 21 days in Kashmir.

“Transporters had called for a three-day nationwide strike and two days have already passed and in case they continue their strike tomorrow as well, I would like to clarify that there is no need for concern as I am constantly holding meetings with the representatives of IOC, HPCL, and BPCL,” he said, adding should the matter get out of control, we won’t hesitate to take necessary legal action against depots.

Bidhuri said since the 40 days of harsh winter ‘Chilla-i-Kalan’ in Kashmir is on, the administration will not let people suffer.

“We have our defence forces here and the administration is not going to take any risk. I also request the transport unions in Kashmir to shun their strike as the message they wanted to convey stands conveyed to the Center; now they must resume normal activities. And I again want to assure people that there is ample stock of fuel available at the moment,” he added.

Pertinently, some truck, bus and tanker operators began a three-day strike on Monday in several states to protest stricter punishments in the new law on hit-and-run cases. Under the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, set to replace the Indian Penal Code, drivers who cause serious road accidents due to negligent driving and run away without informing authorities face up to 10 years in prison or a fine of Rs 7 lakh.

In several states, fuel stations are turning away customers, while massive queues were seen outside the ones still in operation.

Photo/Javid Khan

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