By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, May 6: Truckers in Assam will launch a fresh strike on May 11 and 12 protesting the collection of "goonda tax" by police and transport officials in Meghalaya.
Members of the All Assam Goods Carrier Truck Drivers & Handymen Union will stage a demonstration at Jorabat on May 11 before dashing off memorandums to the Prime Minister and Home Minister.
According to the association, every goods truck plying through Meghalaya has to pay money to police and transport officials at a number of places, even if the vehicles have the required permits and other documents.
"We had resorted to an agitation around six months back. After that, for a month or so, things were ok. But the truckers again started facing the same problem," general secretary of the union Mahendra Talukdar said.
He said while the police personnel charge anything between Rs 200 to Rs 500 from each truck, transport department officials charge a minimum Rs 500.
"The collection is not just at one place. We have to pay personnel at several places like Byrnihat, Umlong and Ladrymbai and Khliehriat in Jaintia Hills.
Every day around 1,500 trucks ply through Meghalaya, most of them carrying goods to Mizoram and Tripura, and according to the truckers union, the total "illegal" collection by the Meghalaya police and transport personnel from the truckers is around Rs 20 lakh in a day. Besides, the truckers are often waylaid by miscreants while travelling through Meghalaya during night time.
"The miscreants loot money and other goods from the vehicles after attacking the drivers. We have lost around seven drivers and handyman in the last few months. Some trucks are now taking the alterte route through gaon and Haflong," Talukdar said.