25th Drivers' Day : Observance of Drivers' Day

All Manipur Petroleum Tankers Drivers' Union *

25th Drivers' Day Celebration at ISBT Complex,Khuman Lampak, Imphal  :: January 14 2014
25th Drivers' Day Celebration at ISBT Complex,Khuman Lampak, Imphal on January 14 2014 :: Pix - Ashok Ningthoujam

As usual, this year also, on Jan 14th 2014, we celebrate the Driver's Day at the I.S.B.T Complex, Khumnan, Imphal. On this day we showed our love and respect to the drivers, who are no more with us and aged and retired drivers along presenting some humble gifts.

The observance of Drivers'Day sarted on 14th January, 1990. Thousands of tortured, humiliated and heart-broken drivers gathered at the Koirengei Air Field for seven days protesting against the unbearable bad roads, tortured at the hands of police personnel, the horrible incident at Keithelmanbi of Senapati District, and the unexpected dangers of driving through Nagaland. That was a historic movement which has been remembered and celebrated for every year on the 14th of January.

In the month of June, 1994 at Zubza, Nagaland, some unknown armed persons killed mercilessly a young under training handyman. In protest against this inhuman behavior about200 trucks and Oil Tankers from Manipur and from outside Manipur organized a rally around Imphal expressing anger and grievances, and more than one thousand trucks and oil Tankers stopped at Koirengei Air Field for nine days.

The drivers and helpers in the vehicles raised their voice against the inhuman killing of drivers who had been serving the people of this region for a long time. That occasion and movement was indeed a historic one which will always be remembered by the people of this region. Manipur is a landlocked state for which surface transport is the only means for transportation of goods, petroleum and petroleum products. Because of this there is an inseparable relationship between the drivers and the common people.

In this connection, we cannot but remember the fact that the Late Irengbam Tompok Singh who was an important leader and Lohiate of Manipur, joined the group at Koirengei and tried very hard to bring about a compromise and a settlement, by inviting the then Chief Minister of Nagaland from Jan. 14th, 1990 onwards. Various Driver's Unions have been ceaselessly struggling against the inhuman treatment shown to the drivers.

As a result of that, it can be said that the frequently of the undesirable treatment of the drivers at the hands of the Motor Vehicle, Excise and Narcotic personnel, who had been threatening or beating or distorting money, in the name of the checking, has reduced to some extent. For the last so many years the drivers, particularly Oil Tankers have been serving the people of Manipur at great personal risks, by driving the Tankers through National Highway No. 39. The drivers can never forget the tragedies faced by them in 1998, 2000 and 2001.

In 1998, an Oil Tanker, MNA 2203, carrying Petrol 10KL(MS) was stopped at Chakumei by unknown persons and burnt it down, and the driver was put in a miserable condition. This was the first incident of burning Oil Tanker carrying petrol along the National Highway No. 39.

On December 31, 2000, another Oil Tanker MN01-4242, carrying 10KL (Ten kilolitres) of petrol was stopped in an area between Mao and Tadubi by well armed unknown persons and burnt the tanker and costly petrol for the second time. Again on January 23,2001, 8 (eight) Oil Tanker carrying petrol and diesel were stopped by about thirty well-armed persons in camouflaged dress, pushed all the eight tankers into the gorge below, leaving only one on the road and burnt all the costly fuel at Lairou.

In addition to that on March 8, of the same year about 75 Oil Tankers filled with petroleum products coming from Assam were ambushed at a place and attacked with bombs. Nearly fifteen tankers were burnt and several innocent drivers were seriously injured. On that day, Handyman of the Oil Tanker MNA-1699, Jit Bahadur of Makui village IT Road was found dead near a gorge. Many bullet injured marks were also found on his body.

Among the various injured persons, there were many deformed persons whose wound cannot be cured even today. Second driver, the late Rajkumar Sharma, from Nepal, who was seriously wounded in the bomb explosion, hospitalized at J.N. Hospital, Imphal for a long time waiting for removal of the pieces of bomb from his body, expired. The last rites/customary rite were performed by the Nepali friends of Kanglatongbi and helped by the union.

Such suffering of the neglected drivers led to the formation of this union. In this way, the union which was formed in March of the same year; has been trying very hard to serve the drivers and the people of Manipur. In recognition of the service of this union, security personnel of Manipur, Assam and Nagaland have been helping the drivers.

Particularly, the personnel of Manipur Police and Manipur rifles are giving security over to the Oil Tankers and giving important information regarding the movement of vehicles to the Union. For this the Union is deeply grateful to the concerned security personnel.

To commemorate the establishment of the Union on January 14, 1990, Driver Day is being celebrated every year since then. This year also, the same day will celebrated on January 14, 2014 and on this day, drivers belonging to the same fraternity are requested not to ply for their profit. They along with the public are also requested to join the celebration of Drivers' Day at the nearest Driver's Union and offer flower to the departed souls.

(Issued by the Celebration Committee,
All Manipur Petroleum Tankers Drivers' Union,
Sangakpham Bazar

* All Manipur Petroleum Tankers Drivers' Union, Sangakpham Bazar wrote this for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
This article was posted on January 17, 2014.

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