Opposition boycotts CM speech
Jammu: The legislative assembly on Wednesday witnessed ruckus over the killing of a Kulgam youth at the hands of government forces, with Opposition members demanding adjournment of the day’s business to discuss the unabated civilian killings, a demand that the Speaker refused.
Khalid Ahmad Dar, resident of Khodweni in Kulgam, was killed on Tuesday when government forces opened fire during clashes that broke out against the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Farheen Wani, a native of Khodweni area.
Amid slogans such as ‘Kashmiriyon Ka Qatl-i-aam Band Karo’ resonating in the House, legislators of the National Conference and the Congress and Independent MLAs stood up from their seats and continuously pressed the Speaker for a debate on civilian killings.
MLA Homshalibugh, Abdul Majeed Larmi, in whose constituency the youth was killed, raised a banner that read: “Stop Innocent killings in Homshalibugh”, while legislators led by the NC’s Ali Mohammad Sagar stormed the well of the House and sloganeered: “Band karo, Band Karo, Innocent Killings Band Karo”, “Qaatil Sarkar Hai Hai, Nagpur Sarkar Hai Hai”. The Congress’ Mohammad Amin Bhat shouted: “Human Rights Violations Band Karo, Band Karo; Kashmiriyon Ka Qatl-i-Aam Band Karo, Band Karo.”
Amid the protest, BJP legislator Sat Sharma stood up and raised the issue of National Health Mission (NHM) employees who were cane-charged by police on Tuesday during a protest demonstration in Jammu.
Ignoring Sharma, Larmi said, “One lakh people are on roads attending the funeral of the slain civilian. Every day and night, innocents are being killed.”
Sagar asked, “How will the situation improve when killings are unabated?”
Asking Parliamentary Affairs Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri to answer his question, Sagar said, “The cycle of killings is going on and the government is neither serious nor sincere. And you say the Opposition has no issue (to talk about). This is the main issue.”
At this, all the BJP legislators stood up from their seats and shouted back.
Larmi questioned the Speaker why he adjourned the House when the issue of civilian killings was raised. Gupta remained silent.
The Opposition remained adamant and raised the slogans, “Nagpur Ke Faislay Band Karo”, “Qaatil Sarkar, Nagpur Sarkar, RSS Sarkar Hai Hai”, “Stop innocent killings, killings of children, and sisters.” Pointing towards the treasury benches, Sagar continued sloganeering, “Sharam Karo, Sharam Karo; Paani Mein Doob Maro.
“If the situation has improved, according to the government, why people are being killed?” NC’s Devender Singh Rana asked the Speaker, “Why this qatl-o-gaarat, aur khoon ki nadiya kyun beh rahi hai?”
The Speaker responded: “The government will take notice of it.”
“Kashmir jal raha hai, Jammu sulag raha hai, aur Ladakh ro raha hai,” Rana continued his salvos at the government.
“The truth is that the government doesn’t want to talk on these issues. But this won’t work. The government has to be made accountable for killings,” Rana said.
Sagar asked the government not to “make every youth of Kashmir a Burhan Wani”.
Meanwhile, R&B minister Naeem Akhtar engaged in verbal duel with the Opposition, though he was not audible. The Opposition responded with its Nagpur taunt – that the government is being run by the RSS headquarters in Nagpur.
“Yours is the biggest role in ruining this government,” Larmi told Akhtar.
The Opposition members staged a walkout from the House at about 10:27am.
After returning to the house, Leader of Opposition Omar Abdullah slammed the government for “not being serious” and announced that the National Conference and Congress were boycotting the address of the chief minister.
While Omar was leaving the house, BJP’s Sat Sharma was seen pleading with him not to leave. Mehbooba Mufti, meanwhile, sat in her seat.
“Veeri sahab has given the statement (on Khalid’s killing) on behalf of the government, but we do not accept it,” Omar told the House. “We get to know only from newspapers that the chief minister is saddened by the killings. She should have expressed same sadness and anguish in the House but she did not,” he said.
“It would have been good if she had come in and said these words herself. The statement should have been spoken from her mouth. Then we would have accepted that the government is serious,” Omar said.
“I am leaving, so are my colleagues,” Omar announced.
The Opposition benches remained empty and only Independent MLA Er Rasheed was present in the House alongside another legislator, Pawan Gupta, before the treasury benches.
In his statement, Veeri told the House that the government had ordered a probe into the killing of Khalid Ahmad Dar.
“We, too, are saddened by the civilian killing. The government has ordered a magisterial enquiry,” Veeri said, before the Opposition announced the boycott of the CM’s address.
“Whosoever will be found guilty will be taken to task,” Veeri assured, but it only provoked Er Rasheed to demand a report of past such inquiries.
“Does the government accept that the slain youth was innocent?” NC’s Devender Rana asked Veeri. “We are investigating the matter,” Veeri replied.
“It is very shameful for this government,” Rana retorted.
Speaking to reporters outside the Assembly, Omar said, “This government has no moral responsibility if they don’t want to discuss the civilian killing. The youth killed in southern Kashmir on Tuesday had no gun in his hands.”