JAMMU: The Legislative Assembly on Monday witnessed pandemonium after opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Independent lawmaker Engineer Rashid protested and demanded an apology from India’s New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah for his comments that “Kashmiris are thieves”.
While PDP legislators staged walk out from the House after exchanging heated arguments with ruling National Conference and Congress legislators, Rashid was marshalled out from the House after he continued his protest in the well and allegedly abused Congress’s SS Salathia.
Abdullah had on Sunday said Kashmiris bypassed electric meters to avoid payments to the fund-starved state electricity department. “Kashmiri chor nahi, maha chor hai” (Kashmiris are not just thieves, they are the biggest thieves), he said at a function in New Delhi.
On Monday, as soon as Assembly proceedings started, PDP legislators led by their party president Mehbooba Mufti stood up and protested against Abdullah’s remark.
“How can Farooq sahib make such a remark? He has abused the whole Kashmiri nation and he should apologise to all Kashmiris,” said Mehbooba.
On this, Assembly Speaker Mubarak Gul said the rules do not allow the members to take such issues in the House. “You can make your point after the question hour, and you should not take the name of Farooq Sahib, he is not the member of this House and rule does not allow this,” said Gul.
But the PDP legislators continued with their protests and trooped into the well raising slogans like “Maha chor koun hai, jawab do, jawab do.”
They were joined by Engineer Rashid who also came into the well and shouted at NC legislators. “You have spilled the blood of Kashmiris. You have to be answerable,” said Rashid.
On this NC and Congress legislators including Ali Mohammad Sagar, Mohammad Akbar Lone, Nasir Sogami, SS Salathia, Bimla Lutra and others stood up and shouted back at PDP legislators. “PDP members are doing a drama here. People know who are real thieves here,” said Sagar.
However, the agitating legislators continued with the protests while NC and Congress legislators shouting back at them.
“Farooq Abdullah has abused this House. He has to apologize,” said PDP’s Basharat Bukhari. “Does Farooq Abdullah mean that we are representing the thieves,” asked another PDP member Abdul Haq Khan.
In response, the Speaker told them to “end this drama as the House can’t discuss this issue.”
On this Mehbooba said that this is not the first time such comment has been made by ruling NC party. “(Farooq’s) son Omar Abdullah has also abused Kashmiris when he called them drug addicts and stone pelters. How can NC be so shameless? They are patrons of corruption in the state and they are calling Kashmiris thieves,” said Mehbooba.
With no answer from the Speaker and government, PDP legislators staged walk out from the House.
After PDP’s walk out, Engineer Rashid continued his protest in the well and shouting at NC and Congress ministers. “You are thieves and murderers of Kashmiris. You take money from the Army,” Rashid shouted.
On this SS Salathia stood up and asked the Speaker to marshal him out “as he always disturbs the House.” As marshals took hold of Rashid to take him out, Salathia shouted at him and tried to grab him before he was taken out.
Later having no quorum in the House, the Speaker adjourned the House for ten minutes. Later when the House convened again, Engineer Rashid again stood up and accused Salathia of abusing him while he was being marshalled out.
“He abused me in the House which you call honourable. They think that it is their property and they will do anything here. If they think that I am afraid of them they are mistaken,” said Rashid.
Salathia, however, denied having abused Rashid.
On this the Deputy Speaker, Sartaj Madani told Rashid that if any minister or legislator will give testimony that Salathia had abused, he will take action.
“Does anyone testify this,” Madani asked the members. But no one in the House endorsed Rashid’s charges against Salathia. “No one in the House will admit it. Check the records of the House,” said Rashid.
On this, PDP legislator, Nizamuddin Bhat stood up and told Rashid that there is no one to give testimony in his favor and let him put him to God.
“There is Allah above us all. Let you put this matter to Him,” said Bhat, prompting Rashid to take his seat.