Day 2: Drama prevails in Assembly

JAMMU: Jammu and Kashmir Assembly on Tuesday witnessed chaotic scenes for the second consecutive day as the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) did not allow the House to function over the setting up new administrative units, prompting the Speaker to adjourn the House four times.
A PDP legislator, Mushtaq Ahmad Shah, who represents Tral constituency in the House, was seriously injured during the ruckus created by his party, saying their constituencies were ignored by the government while setting up the new administrative units. Shah was taken to the Government Medical College, Jammu, for treatment after he fell from the Assembly Secretary’s table when he was dragged by the marshals.
As soon as the House met, PDP legislators stood from their seats and trooped into the well, shouted slogans, and cried discrimination against their respective areas.
The agitated members climbed the Secretary’s table and threw chairs, mikes, and other equipments into the air. “We want tehsil. We want justice. ‘Bandar baant nahi chaley gi’,” the PDP members shouted. They alleged the move was to strengthen the electoral prospects of the ruling Congress-National Conference alliance.
Speaker Mubarak Gul requested the protesting MLAs to take their seats and assured that ample time would be given to all of them to raise the “genuine” issues about the newly created administrative units.
“Please take your seats, you will get time to speak after the vote of thanks to the Governor’s speech,” Gul assured the protesting PDP members.
But the members ignored the Speaker’s pleas and snatched wires from mikes and flung the chairs and other furniture into the air in the Assembly well.
This prompted Gul to adjourn the House for fifteen minutes.
The House met again after the adjournment, but this time the PDP members showed more resistance and tried to approach the Speaker’s table after which the security staff made a human chain to keep the members away.
“This government is of thieves. The units were created by this government to gain some political mileage, but we won’t let it happen,” the PDP MLAs shouted.
More unruly scenes were witnessed when members from Hindu rightwing Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) and National Panthers Party shouted anti-government slogans and alleged discrimination against the Jammu region in the creation of new administrative units.
Heated words were exchanged by Awami Itehad Party chairman Sheikh Rashid and Minister of Higher Education Mohammad Akbar Lone when the former trooped into the well.
Speaker Gul again urged the agitating members to calm down, but the latter continued with their protests forcing him to adjourn the House again.
The House met third time but the PDP members were in no mood to come out of the well despite repeated pleas from the Speaker. When the members didn’t listen to him, the Speaker ordered marshals to expel the agitating members out of the House. The PDP legislators resisted and once again stood over the Secretary’s table and vociferously shouted slogans.
“Do what you want to do but don’t stand over the table. I request you to come down from the table and protest on the floor of the well. You are all respectable people. This is not anybody’s personal property,” Gul said.
Gul also told the protesting members that their grievances had been forwarded to the government which would look into them. He later allowed leader of the opposition and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti to speak.
“Now Mehbooba ji is speaking, at least take your seats now,” Gul said. On this Mehbooba replied that there is no need for the members to sit on their seats.
Mehbooba said in 2009 the government set up Beloria Commission and in 2011 Ganie Commission was formed. “Why were their reports not discussed in the House? There is a gross violation of rules in the formation of these new administrative units. We are not against forming any administrative unit but why the deserving areas were not were given their right,” she said.
The members from Jammu also came into the well and stood over the Secretary’s table and shouted anti-government slogans, claiming that Jammu region had been discriminated against in the new administrative units.
In the din, Gul time adjourned the House for the third time.
And, when the House met again for the fourth time in the day, the PDP members were reluctant to take their seats. They faced stiff resistance from the security staff when they tried to reach Speaker’s table. But some PDP MLAs, including Javid Mustafa Mir, Choudhary Zulfikar, Abdul Haq Khan and Mushtaq Ahmad Shah managed to climb the table. In the meantime, Shah was dragged by the marshals, leading to his injury and prompting Gul to adjourn the House for the day.
The injured legislator was taken out from the Assembly by some legislators to the doctors on duty in the Assembly. However, the doctors advised that the legislator should be shifted to GMC, Jammu for treatment.
The Budget session of the Legislature, which began on Monday, was expected to be stormy with range of issues like the Army’s closure of Pathribal fake encounter, the alleged molestation of a lady doctor by former Minister of State for Health, Shabir Ahmad Khan, and the creation of new administrative units in the state.
But it seems the row over administrative units will dominate the session, as PDP president Mehbooba Mufti told reporters outside the Assembly that her party would not allow normal functioning of the House till the rights of people seeking new administrative units are met. Mehbooba said there has been gross discrimination against areas represented by the PDP in the proposed new administrative units.