Speaker denies Opposition demand to adjourn question hour
Srinagar: Anti government-slogans and noisy protests disrupted the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council on the second day of the Budget session on Wednesday. The opposition Congress and National Conference (NC) staged a walkout for not being allowed by the Speaker to discuss civilian killings and human rights violations in Kashmir.
After pleading for nearly an hour with the Speaker, the Opposition parties walked out of the Assembly. A similar walkout took place in the Council after the Opposition was denied a discussion on the killing of innocent civilians at the hands of government forces.
Speaker Kavinder Gupta turned down the adjournment motions moved by the Opposition members, but agreed to a one-hour discussion after question hour. However, leaders of the NC, Congress, CPI(M) as well as Independent legislators walked out of the House.
As noisy protests and anti-government slogans disrupted proceedings, Sukhnandan Choudhary of the ruling BJP went to the well twice, seeking a reply from the government on issues related to farmers. He also left in a huff.
Earlier, when the House assembled for the day, members of the NC and Congress as well as Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rasheed asked for adjournment of the question hour for a discussion on the security situation in the state, including alleged human rights violations, and the power crisis in the Valley.
The Speaker did not allow it. The Opposition members then trooped into the well of the House, raising slogans like “Dismiss this murderer government” and “Stop human rights violations”. The Speaker then said that a one-hour discussion would be held after question hour.
Almost the entire Opposition gathered in the well thrice. They left soon after Minister for Parliamentary Affairs AR Veeri accused the Opposition of having no issues to raise and of deliberately disrupting the House.
“We moved two adjournment motions, one on human rights violations and another on the crisis the people of Kashmir are facing because of inadequate supply of electricity in this harsh winter,” CPI(M) legislator MY Tarigami told reporters outside the House.
“The very nature of the issues, in our opinion, warranted a discussion and adjournment of business but the Speaker did not allow it and that is why we staged a walkout,” he said.
Tarigami said the Speaker called for a one-hour discussion only after the members entered the well. Even then, he continued to vacillate, adding to the chaos, Tarigami said.
He said the opposition was not disrupting the House and had moved adjournment motions in accordance with procedure. He said their demand would continue for a thorough discussion on the issues of public interest.
“It is imperative to discuss the prevailing situation in the state,” said National Conference MLA Devender Rana.
“This government is inefficient, as a result of which even ruling party MLAs are walking out,” Rana said, referring to BJP legislator Choudhary.
The government, he said, was aware that its failures would be highlighted if there is a discussion in the House.
Independent MLA Engineer Rasheed said he wanted to raise the issue of the gag on social media for government employees, “but the House had turned into a fish market”.
He accused the NC and Congress of enacting a drama on the human rights situation.
Clarifying his stance, BJP’s Choudhary said he walked out due to the failure of the government to address his concerns with regard to farmers. “The government plans to construct ring roads in the twin capitals. The farmers are not happy with the land acquisition policy,” he said.
Lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “revolutionary steps” for farmers, Choudhary said his fight was not against his own party; he only wanted to ensure that farmer rights were safeguarded.
The chaos in the Assembly echoed in the Legislative Council where, too, NC and Congress members submitted adjournment motions to Chairman Haji Anayat Ali, asking for a discussion on civilian killings.The chairman rejected the adjournment motions, prompting slogans and protests by the Opposition.
BJP MLC Ajat Shatru Singh also walked out over denial of his demand to declare a holiday on the birthday of his grandfather, Maharaja Hari Singh.
Soon after they walked out of the House, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Abdul Rehman Veeri met Opposition members and urged them to attend the proceedings. He asked them to actively participate in the Discussion on Motion of Thanks on Governor’s Address.
Deputy Speaker Nazir Ahmad Gurezi also appealed to members of Opposition to take part in proceedings of the House. The Deputy Speaker, while chairing the proceedings, requested the Opposition to join the discussion and provide their “valuable inputs in the larger public interest”.