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Truckers to intensify agitation further — Some AIMTC officials arrested

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Aug. 26

THE striking transporters on Thursday adopted an aggressive stand after the Delhi Police arrested some of their leaders including the former President of the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), Mr O.P. Agarwal, here.

"The agitation will be intensified further and the exemption granted to essential commodities will be withdrawn from Friday if the Government does not release Mr Agarwal and others and tendered an apology", Mr B.N. Dhumal, President, AIMTC, said.

He said that the six-day long strike has been very peaceful so far and no untoward incident has been reported. " However, if the Government continued with its present attitude, we will not be able to give any assurance in this regard", he warned.

Stating that the AIMTC was not opposed to service tax, he said that the transporters were against being made responsible to collect the same.

"We urge the Government to change the modality of collection of service tax. We should be spared of this responsibility", Mr Dhumal said.

The Government started arresting officials of the AIMTC after its leaders refused to sign an agreement without having reached any settlement, he claimed.

"The Government was exerting pressure on us to sign an agreement without having reached any settlement. We did not agree to sign any agreement without consulting our managing committee," he stated.

The strike has disrupted movement of goods and jacked up the prices of essential commodities.

Meanwhile, the Government kept a close vigil on the situation developing out of stoppage of inter-State movement of goods particularly perishable commodities which had led to shooting up of prices by as much as 25-30 per cent.

``The Cabinet Secretary, Mr B.K. Chaturvedi, is regularly reviewing the situation with concerned ministries,'' official sources said.

The strike has also affected industrial production due to disruption in supplies of raw materials and components and movement of finished goods out of factories.

According to the control room set up here, the strike had a major effect in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Orissa even as Chhattisgarh imposed the Essential Supplies Maintenance Act (ESMA). Parts of Karnataka were also hit by the stir while the Tamil Nadu Lorry Owners' Federation decided not to support the strike.

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