Sharp retorts feature in verbal duel with BJP MLA
Jammu: A Communist legislator and a maverick one banded together in the J&K Assembly on Wednesday to defend resistance leaders Syed Ali Geelani and Masarat Alam Bhat from the draconian detentions that the government has imposed on both of them. The lone Communist in the 78-member state assembly, Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, and Independent MLA from Langate, Engineer Rasheed, both took on the government, especially the BJP MLA Ravinder Raina, to speak against the detention under Public Safety Act (PSA) of Masarat Alam and the house detention of Syed Ali Geelani.
In a charged speech made in absence of Opposition members, who had walked out in boycott of the chief minister’s address, Tarigami slammed the PDP-BJP government for keeping Masarat Alam and Geelani under unjustified detention. “It is utter failure, right from Delhi to Srinagar,” Tarigami said. “It is because the authority has been given to a CRPF man which otherwise should have belonged to this House,” he said, asking the Prime Minister of India whether there was no other option than “lathi” (stick) to deal with Kashmir.
“PSA was slapped against me twice,” he said. “I have not seen Masarat Alam for long as he has been awarded a degree of PSA… I am surprised that everyday Geelani, Mirwaiz are being detained in their houses.”
“When shall this stop,” he asked.
Tarigami said the PDP-BJP government was not taking any lesson from the late Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq’s government, which adopted a liberal policy and decided not to keep Sheikh Abdullah under continuous detention.
“You have reached a point where people have achieved degrees of PhD in detentions,” he told the government.
“A part of the body is burning,” he said of the deteriorating Kashmir situation. “Ye nasoor ban chuka hai (it has become a festering wound) and yet no serious effort is being made to solve it.”
Asking the chief minister to ban use of pellets, Tarigami said that there was consensus in the House for such a ban. “There dozens of Inshas, hundreds of our youngsters, are facing these bullets and pellets,” he said. “The CM heads the Unified Command; why doesn’t she put a ban on use of pellets in Kashmir, as there is consensus in this House that no one should be blinded,” he asked.
“You don’t have to seek permission from the union government; you can do it on your won,” Tarigami said. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was not present in the House when Tarigami was speaking.
BJP MLA Ravinder Raina interrupted Tarigami to ask, “Who will give the guarantee for Pakistan?”
“Who will give your guarantee?” Tarigami retorted.
“We should not be complacent… we are in a very bad situation and it needs to be considered seriously,” Tarigami said.
He also criticised the social media gag on government employees. “Why can’t they use social media?” he asked.
“And then you brought an ordinance on damage to property, as if there were no laws (already)… this government also has got degrees in making laws,” he said.
Pointing at Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu, Tarigami asked, “On the issue of GST, you called a special session of the assembly and we were not allowed to submit our questions. Okay. But what happened to the Autumn session, which was scheduled to be held in Srinagar last year?”
“Why are you scared of answering?” he asked Drabu, who responded with a smile. Tarigami then said, “Drabu sahab has said he will not contest next elections if power projects won’t be returned (to Kashmir by the Government of India)… are you scared?”
Ridiculing power minister Nirmal Singh, Tarigami said that he had “no idea that Rs 5,000-crore schemes had not been launched”.
Tarigami said that more than 11 lakh kanals of land remained encroached across J&K, and officials were responsible for this.
Speaking of “rampant corruption in the system, to which the civil secretariat is witness”, Tarigami faced an angry PDP minister, Imran Ansari.
“If Tarigami sahab has any proof, he should present it in the House, as he is not addressing any outsider but members of the House,” Ansari said.
“MLA sahab (Tarigami) has hit left, right and centre, but being ballistic is not good for democracy… Speaker should expunge his words on corruption or else Tarigami should bring facts before this house,” he demanded.
Tarigami remained adamant that corruption in the system was rampant. “You can’t impose your words on me,” Tarigami replied to Ansari.
Ansari responded: “If somebody has no proof to defend himself, he should not say so.”
Earlier, Independent legislator Er Rasheed continuously interrupted BJP MLA Ravinder Raina’s speech. Rasheed asserted that the “real leaders of J&K were Masarat Alam and Asiya Andrabi”.
Raina said in his speech that the fight in J&K was between democrats and anti-democrats.
“These so-called leaders don’t want peace,” Raina said of the resistance leaders. He said that the government had opened doors of dialogue but “these so-called leaders did not join it. The real leaders – the elected ones – are here and can talk,” Raina said.
“The real leaders are Masarat Alam and Asiya Andrabi,” Rasheed retorted to Raina.
“The most democratic way to solve Kashmir is through plebiscite,” Rasheed said. At this, the BJP MLAs engaged in a verbal duel with him. “NIA bhi istimaal kiya ab aur kya kar logay?” Rasheed told them.
Raina said in his speech that “there is terrorism in PoK (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir), to which Rasheed replied: “The whole world knows what is where.”
“Give us a solution; don’t resort to rhetoric,” Rasheed told the BJP MLA.
“Why is Masarat Alam behind bars? 36 PSAs have been slapped on him,” Rasheed asked the government.
Raina said that it was the Atal Behari Vajpayee-led government that talked to the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen in 2000. “That is exactly what we want,” Rasheed told the House. “Talk to militants, to Syed Salahuddin,” he said.