By A Aalim Ahmad
SRINAGAR: The detention of a Muslim community leader in Jammu under draconian Public Safety Act (PSA) rocked the Assembly on Wednesday, triggering a verbal dual between legislators of the ruling BJP and independent MLA Sheikh Abdur Rashid, who was supported by a few opposition members.
Rashid, on instructions of speaker Kavinder Gupta, was marshaled out when he relentlessly shouted slogans and protested in the well of the House.
Shortly after the Question Hour began, Rashid stood up from his seat waving a copy of Kashmir Reader with an exclusive report on June 7 regarding the detention of prominent Muslim community leader Syed Shabir Ahmad Shah.
Rashid sought release of Shah, president of Muslim Development Forum who has been booked by the authorities under the PSA.
Kashmir Reader reported that Shah, a resident of Mohalla Jeevan Shah, has been accused of being a “habitual criminal, mischievous cheater and a desperate character and a threat to peace”.
Shah has been booked under Public Safety Act (PSA). His dossier signed by deputy commissioner reads, “He has created terror among locals and disturbs the tempo of life of the community resulting which general public is feeling insecure (sic).”
Engineer Rashid mocked at PDP and showed Shah’s photograph while participating in a memorial ceremony of late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. “Has Shah been convicted because he participated in late Mufti’s Chahlum?” he said pointing towards the treasury benches.
“You should have instead booked communal elements of Samba and those who killed Ishtiyaq and Zahid,” Rashid shouted, referring to the death of a Kashmiri trucker and a villager in Chenab valley at the hands of rightwing activists.
He alleged that the PDP leaders have turned into brokers who have compromised on the honour and dignity of the Muslims of Jammu.
While the PDP legislators watched Rashid’s protest silently, a group of BJP legislators rose up and shouted slogans against him.
A few Opposition National Conference legislators along with Congress lawmaker Waqar Rasool Wani and lone Marxist legislator MY Tarigami also supported Rashid’s protest and sought clarification from the government over the issue.
“Why a leader from a particular community has been booked under PSA?” Tarigami said.
Speaker Kavinder Gupta did not allow senior NC leader Ali Mohammad Sagar to speak on the issue.
He said that PSA was slapped on anti-national elements. When Rashid refused to return to his seat and continued sloganeering, the speaker warned him of being thrown out of the house.
The warning had no impact compelling the speaker to order the marshals to take Rashid out of the house.
Later in the day, when Rashid was asked to speak on the budget grants, he began with Iqbal’s couplet: “Yeh dastoor-e-zaban bandi hai kaisa teri mehfil mein, yahan to baat karne ko tarasti hai zabaan meri”.