Marshals injured, mikes uprooted, furniture damaged
Jammu: Seven days ahead of schedule, both Houses of the legislature were adjourned sine die after Opposition created pandemonium and demanded clarification from the Speaker on whether the Chief Minister’s “anti-national” remark had been expunged or not.
As soon as the proceeding began the speaker, Kavinder Gupta, did not pay heed to the opposition’s demand, after which the opposition members trooped into the well of the house and hurled chairs towards BJP members. They also exchanged blows with each other. Opposition members then tore papers and threw mikes up in the air.
As soon as the question hour session started, NC working president and leader of opposition Omar Abdullah asked the Speaker to inform the house when CM Mehbooba Mufti will clarify her statement and whether he (the Speaker) had expunged her remarks from the records of the House.
Responding to the demand of Abdullah, Gupta said that after examining the records he had found out that there are elements who use Article 370 to vitiate the atmosphere of the Valley and Mehbooba had not referred to them as anti-nationals.
Taking strong exception to the Speaker’s statement, opposition members thronged into the well of the house demanding clarification by the CM on the matter. Soon after being stopped by marshals, NC leader and MLA from Pahalgam, Altaf Kaloo resorted to vandalism of chairs. The Pahalgam MLA was seconded by another NC lawmaker from Homeshalibugh Abdul Majeed Larmi, who threw assembly mikes in the air.
Following the ruckus, the Speaker adjourned the house for half an hour. While walking out of the house, a scuffle broke out between PDP’s minister Chowdhary Lal Singh and NC legislators Mohammad Akbar Lone and Abdul Majeed Larmi. Larmi dragged the minister and exchanged blows before the marshals intervened. In the brawl, some marshals also received injuries.
Later, the Speaker in exercise of powers conferred on him under rule 16 of the rules of procedure and conduct of business adjourned the House sine-die a week ahead of its schedule.
Talking to media persons outside the House, CPI(M) leader and MLA from Kulgam, M Y Tarigami accused the BJP-PDP government of sticking to their alliance only for the sake of power. He said, “The opposition hasn’t created this issue. The ruling BJP members along with the Speaker have contradicted the statement of their own chief minister. We only demanded a clarification, but they are running from away it. Both BJP and PDP are playing their own politics in Jammu and Kashmir Valley, respectively.”
NC lawmaker from Pahalgam Altaf Kaloo defended the vandalism of property by saying such incidents happened as part of self-defence when ten marshals were unleashed on one member. “There are bound to be repercussions,” he said.
“We will not tolerate if anyone speaks or tries to harm Article 370 or 35A .Today the speaker started proceedings as usual even though the Leader of Opposition had asked for a clarification. When the Speaker can expunge the statement of the leader of the house, then this house should be dissolved because this sets a very wrong precedent,” Altaf said.
Commenting on the fight that broke out between the members, Altaf said that the use of unparliamentary language was unacceptable in the house. He said that similar incidents will happen again if a minister resorts to such language.
Hitting out at the government, senior NC leader and MLA from Eidgah, Mubarak Gul lamented the Speaker’s decision to continue the proceedings even after Omar Abdullah had demanded to know when the CM will clarify her statement.
“Nowhere in the world is the Leader of Opposition insulted like this. They knew that this issue will be raised and they themselves wanted these protests; that is why they started the question hour,” Gul said.
While reiterating their demand for a clarification, the NC lawmaker said the opposition was only demanding what the Speaker had promised yesterday: that the CM will clarify her remarks today and he will examine the records.
Earlier, MLA from Nagrota Devender Rana said that the NC is of the opinion that the way the post of the CM has been insulted, Mehbooba Mufti should resign immediately.
Opposition MLCs vandalise property of house
Opposition legislators on Wednesday vandalised property of the Upper House and created a ruckus over the Speaker’s statement of expunging Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s remarks that those working to scrap Article 370 are the real “anti- nationals”.
As soon as the house proceeding commenced, the opposition legislators stood up and raised anti-government slogans. They demanded a reply from the government if the remarks of Mufti will be expunged from the records or not. Then they proceeded to break the furniture, after uprooting the fixed mikes. They also entered the well of the house and raised slogans against the government. This led to a scuffle between opposition MLCs and marshals for about 20 minutes.
During the question hour, Sajjad Kichloo, BA Veeri, Shoukat Hussain Ganai, and Qaiser Jamshed Lone threw chairs of the house into the well of the house and uprooted mikes from their desks. Then they entered the well, along with Congress MLCs Naresh Gupta, Jugal Kishore Sharma, GN Monga and others. They also tore to rags the question papers in the well to show their resentment against the government for not replying to their questions on the CM’s remarks.
Meanwhile, Legislative Council Chairman Haji Anayat Ali at 11.20am directed the marshals to take the opposition members out of the house. But the opposition MLCs resisted the marshals and continued shouting slogans like, “Qatil Sarkar Haay Haay, Marshal Sarkar Haay Haay, RSS Sarkar Haay Haay, Nagpur Sarkar Haay Haay.’
Later, the Chairman adjourned the house for five minutes and asked the marshals to restore the furniture that had been thrown around by the opposition legislators.
Keeping in view the ruckus in the house over the past few days, the Chairman had already deputed extra marshals from the state assembly to maintain decorum of the Upper House.
Immediately after the house met at 11.50am, opposition members again stood up and demanded reply from the government on the expunging of remarks of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on those trying to abolish Article 370.
The opposition legislators again threw the furniture and uprooted the mikes and continuously created uproar over Mufti’s statement. They demanded from the Speaker a clarification, and then followed a scuffle between legislators and marshals in which two legislators of NC and Congress, namely Sajjad Kichloo and Jugal Kishore Sharma, sustained minor injuries. They again raised slogans like, “Marshal Law Haay Haay, RSS Haay Haay, Qatil Sarkar Haay Haay.”
Meanwhile, BJP legislators Ajatshatru and SM Ambardar kept urging the opposition legislators to not damage the property of the house. They called the vandalism condemnable and unconstitutional.
Later, LC Chairman Haji Anayat Ali adjourned the house ‘sine die’ after opposition members continued to disrupt the proceedings and hurling chairs in the air.
The Chairman passed 4 Bills during the Legislative Business session through a voice vote during the ruckus.
After the house was adjourned sine die, all the opposition legislators of NC and Congress assembled in the Central Hall and staged a protest by sitting on the stairs of the entry point of the Assembly. They “welcomed” the CM’s statement in the Legislative Assembly on “anti-nationals” trying to scrap Article 370.
Sajjad Kichloo, while addressing the media outside the Assembly Hall, said, “We welcome this statement as it was a reiteration of the party’s consistent stand on the issue and also factually and constitutionally correct. There have been repeated attempts to use the judicial route to somehow weaken Article 370 and Article 35A. The National Conference has and will continue to oppose such plans.”
“The CM’s statement is factually correct and we welcome it with a hope that the Chief Minister stands by what she has said in the days to come. We have always maintained that Article 370 is the constitutional bridge that connects the State to the Union and that weakening it would make the constitutional link questionable and invalid,” he said.
Jugal Kishore Sharma while addressing the media said, The government has exposed its sinister design by adjourning the house sine die. This act of doublespeak has exposed how much they work together for the Agenda of Alliance. Both the partners have misled the people of the state.”
(With inputs from Sohail Punjabi)