On Monday, several petrol pumps across Kerala shut down in protest for half a day. The reason was they were protesting the rising number of attacks on petrol pumps. Sparked by the attack and theft of Rs 2 lakh from a pump in Pampady, Kottayam, the shutdown was observed four days after the incident.
The petrol pumps shut down from 6 am to 1 pm on Monday, to protest the government's inaction against these attacks.
Petrol pumps in different districts, except Kannur, closed down for the first half of the day in solidarity with the protests.
"Every day, on an average, 2 petrol stations are attacked in Kerala. Petrol pumps are explosive areas and, hence, are prone to attacks. We are urging the state government to make crimes of this kind a non-bailable offence," said R Sabarinathan, National Vice-President of the Federation of All India Petroleum Traders.
The protest was strongest in Kottayam with over 25% petrol pumps closing down across the district. Other districts in the state saw an average participation of less than 10%, said Sabarinathan.
"We had left it to the different regional heads to take a call on the protest. Staying open or shutting down to adhere to the protest was done depending on the number of petrol pumps in the district that participated," he said.
Concluding that the petrol pumps in the state are prone to frequent attacks, especially cash thefts, he stated that security needed to be strengthened in these pumps.
"We need the government to provide Constitutional protection to petrol pumps in the state. Under the hospital attack Act, any act of violence against hospital persons and even damage or loss to property in a healthcare centre is a non-bailable offence. We are asking for a similar law for attacks on petrol pumps," he said.