| Two-wheelers return without filling tanks from a petrol pump in Sakchi on Thursday. (Bhola Prasad)
Oil tanker operators called off their indefinite strike on Thursday afternoon, barely 24 hours after calling it, but not before most petrol pumps ran dry due to non-supply of fuel.
Private Carriers Vehicle Operators Association (PCVOA), which had called the strike on Wednesday in protest against the abduction and killing of a tanker driver, decided to resume operations after police promised to intensify patrolling on roads, especially in West Singhbhum where Julfiqur Khan (35) was targeted by a gang, and arrest the remaining three culprits.
A functionary of PCVOA confirmed that they had withdrawn the strike in all three districts East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum and Seraikela-Kharsawan. DIG (Kolhan) has accepted two of our main demands providing extra security to tanker operators and foolproof investigation into the murder of Khan. Supply in West Singhbhum will resume from Friday while in the remaining two districts, normalcy was restored later on Thursday itself, said the functionary.
DIG (Kolhan) Arun Kumar Singh said a delegation of tanker operators met him at Chaibasa on Thursday to discuss the frequent law and order problems in West Singhbhum. I assured them that patrolling would be intensified on the route, where retail petrol outlets are located. The operators relented and agreed to call off the strike, said Singh.
Asked about the probe into the murder of Khan, the DIG said West Singhbhum SP had been asked to closely monitor the case.
However, around 75 per cent of fuel bunks in the steel city had run out of stuck by 10am on Thursday. As news of the strike spread, vehicle owners pressed the panic button and queued up at petrol pumps, but several of them had to return disappointed.
Khan was abducted by a gang of six on September 29 while he was on his way to Jayantgarh from the Burmamines depot of HPCL with a loaded tanker. His body was found at Hatgamharia, close to West Singhbhums border with Odisha, on Tuesday.
He had been strangulated.