Jammu: The issue of civilian killings due to alleged cross-border firing and shelling rocked the Legislative Assembly on Saturday morning, with the opposition accusing the PDP-BJP government of failing to secure the lives of people.
As soon as the Lower House of the state legislature met, the opposition members rose from their seats and demanded compensation and emergency medicare for the injured. BJP MLAs too raised a similar demand, although with a different focus, that of condemning Pakistan.
National Conference (NC) and Congress MLAs later staged a walkout from the House, lambasting the PDP-BJP government over casualties on the International Border and the Line of Control in alleged Pakistan shelling.
Opposition parties mocked the BJP of the “broad, 56-inch chest”, in an apparent reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “You have failed to protect our people along the border and the LoC,” declared the NC’s MLA Mendhar, Javed Rana, as he started the protest. Other NC and Congress MLAs started anti-government, anti-BJP and anti-RSS slogans.
“You are holding drama inside the House,” the BJP was told by the opposition members.
In a scathing attack aimed at the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Dr Jitendra Singh, the NC’s Khanyar MLA, Ali Mohammad Sagar, said Singh had accused opposition parties of “being anti-national”.
“What has Dr Jitendra Singh said? This is condemnable,” Sagar told the House. “Are we anti-nationals? It is BJP which has failed in safeguarding the lives of people.”
He said that Jitendra Singh avoided commenting on how the cross-border shelling issue would be resolved and instead targeted the opposition. His words invited slogans of “shame” against Singh from opposition members.
The BJP MLAs were on their feet and raised anti-Pakistan slogans. However the opposition members retorted saying, “You only know slogans.”
Sagar said that the government was irresponsible as it had not until then given its statement in the House. The statement was issued two hours later.
The NC’s Javed Rana walked into the well followed by others and said that the whole border area was affected.
Amid shouts of “Naalyak sarkar, hai hai”, Congress MLA, Banihal, Vikar Rasool told the BJP MLAs, “Go to the border, don’t create scenes here.”
The Congress’ Nubra MLA, Deldan Namgyal, asked the BJP: “You (the BJP) said we will behead 10 enemy heads if one Indian soldier is beheaded. Is this happening?”
BJP state president and Jammu MLA Sat Sharma was given a chance to speak but he could not be heard as opposition members raised their pitch during the protest.
BJP MLA Sukhnandan Kumar from Marh, Jammu, came to the House in the afternoon from his home town, where he had driven early Saturday. Speaking of Saturday’s cross-border shelling incidents, he told the House that a youth had been killed while many others had been injured in shelling.
“Firing is going on from both sides,” Kumar informed the House. “I am just back from my constituency and the situation is tense.”
The Parliamentary Affairs, Abdul Rehman Veeri, expressed the concern of the government over the issue.
The NC and Congress MLAs staged a walkout from the House at 10:14 am.
Later, responding to the concerns raised by the opposition parties in the Legislative Assembly, Relief and Rehabilitation minister Javed Mustafa Mir told the House that the government was concerned over the border-shelling casualties.
“I have directed the commissioner secretary, Home, to prepare a comprehensive report which will take us an hour,” Mir told the House.
“You have again postponed it,” NC’s Ali Mohammad Sagar told Mir after returning from the walkout period. “No, not at all,” Mir responded. “Home commissioner has been directed, and a report will be tabled here today. Government will not walk away from this; it is a concern of everybody.”
The statement was read by Veeri in the latter half of the first sitting.