SHILLONG: In response to harassment by Meghalaya Police against oil tanker drivers, the North East Petroleum Mazdoor Union (NEPMU) has declared a suspension of petroleum product supplies from Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) to Meghalaya, effective November 29.
In a letter addressed to the Minister of Food, Civil Supply and Consumer Affairs, Government of Meghalaya, NE Petroleum Mazdoor Union expressed profound concern over alleged mistreatment of oil tanker drivers and helpers by Meghalaya Police personnel since November 24.
The incidents were primarily reported in the Ri Bhoi district, particularly around 18th Mile, where police actions were deemed as unjustly targeting tanker drivers under the pretext of malpractices.
“Meghalaya Police forcibly detained some tankers outside a Dhaba for food at 22nd Mile and registered cases against them. The next morning, police detained loaded tankers without proper reason, causing significant problems for innocent drivers and helpers,” stated NEPMU in the letter.
Due to perceived risks of torture and harassment by Meghalaya Police, oil tanker drivers and crew members collectively decided to refrain from transporting petroleum products to Meghalaya from IOCL, BPCL, and HPCL, starting November 29, 2023. This decision will persist until reported issues are resolved, as communicated in a letter addressed to the Minister of Food, Civil Supply, and Consumer Affairs, Government of Meghalaya.
General Secretary Ramen Das highlighted the distressing situation faced by tanker drivers while also emphasizing NEPMU’s willingness to cooperate with authorities in cases where wrongdoing is proven but strongly opposed the harassment of innocent individuals under the guise of malpractices.
The union received reports indicating that in cases where drivers refuted allegations by the police, personnel engaged in physical torture of both drivers and helpers. Additionally, statements and photographs were allegedly obtained forcefully, raising concerns about the treatment of oil tanker drivers by law enforcement authorities.
As the standoff continues, the NEPMU's decision to suspend fuel supplies to Meghalaya underscores the gravity of the situation and the urgency for resolution between the union and Meghalaya Police.