*Govt endorses CM’s statement
JAMMU, Jan 16: Differences in coalition partners, PDP and BJP surfaced today with PDP reiterating in the Assembly that the Government stands by the package announced by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on the floor of the House for 2016 Kashmir unrest victims, a stand that trashed the BJP Working Committee Resolution adopted here yesterday opposing any compensation to the stone pelters and their families.
As Opposition National Conference and Congress exploited differences between the coalition partners to the hilt in the Legislative Assembly today, the BJP was unable to defend its Resolution with Parliamentary Affairs Minister and PDP veteran Abdul Rehman Veeri stating following massive Opposition protests that the House proceedings stand, which means the Chief Minister’s statement, made on floor of the House, was the official stand of the Government.
With regard to demand for rehabilitation of families of those who lost their lives, last week Mehbooba had said in the Assembly, “They are our own children and we have to ensure their rehabilitation. We have kept an amount of Rs 5 lakh ex-gratia as compensation for the next of kin in case of deaths.”
“In any such extreme case, the Government is committed to provide jobs to the next of kin to these families and the children who have lost their eyesight. Our Government is ready to provide jobs to their family members,” she had said, adding that those having permanent disability will get Rs 75,000.
However, the coalition partner BJP in its Working Committee meeting held here yesterday passed a Resolution that it would oppose any move of the State Government which “encourage the anti-national elements and demoralize the nationalistic forces”. It had opposed compensation to the unrest victims, saying they were the stone pelters.
Pandemonium prevailed in the Legislative Assembly throughout the Question Hour with Opposition MLAs from National Conference, Congress and Others disrupting the proceedings seeking Government statement on relief to Kashmir summer unrest victims saying that Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had announced relief on floor of the House while the BJP Working Committee had yesterday adopted a Resolution opposing the compensation.
Protests erupted in the Assembly as soon as proceedings of the House began with all National Conference and Congress members on their feet asking the treasury benches to clarify their positions as both the coalition partners have been speaking in different language on relief to the Kashmir unrest victims.
NC MLAs including Ali Mohammad Sagar, Mohammad Akbar Lone, Mian Altaf, Devender Rana, Kamal Arora, Abdul Majeed Larmi among others, joined by the Congress MLAs, present in the House initially protested from their seats but, finding the Ministers silent to their query, trooped into Well of the House and were surrounded by the Watch and Ward Staff of the Assembly.
As Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was not present in the House during Question Hour, the Opposition MLAs wanted Parliamentary Affairs Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri and Education Minister Naeem Akhter, who were present in the Assembly, to reply to their query in `Yes or No’. Initially, National Conference Legislature Party leader and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was not present in the House but he later joined the proceedings about 25 minutes of the protests. However, he took his seat calmly.
The agitated National Conference and Congress MLAs indulged in massive sloganeering, thumping of benches and had heated exchanges with the BJP MLAs including Sat Sharma `CA’, Ravinder Raina and Gagan Bhagat as they wanted the Government to clarify their position on compensation to Kashmir unrest victims saying there was confusion among the minds of people as both the partners were speaking in two different tones.
Shouting `Dohri Policy Nahin Chalegi (double standards won’t do)’, `Hamare Sawalon Ka Jawaab Do, Jawaab Do (reply to our questions) and `PDP-BJP Hai Hai (down with PDP, BJP)’, the Opposition MLAs, virtually trying to corner the two coalition partners and exploit difference between them, said they wanted reply to their question as to which statement was correct.
“There have been two different versions. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had stated in the Assembly the next of kin of unrest victims would get Rs 5 lakh worth relief. However, yesterday, the BJP Working Committee has passed a resolution opposing any such compensation to the people. We want to know which of the two coalition partners is right. Our question is very simply and the Government must react to it,” the NC MLAs shouted but didn’t get any reaction from the treasury benches.
They pointed out that Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Dr Jitendra Singh has also opposed the compensation to summer unrest victims.
Ignoring the Opposition protests, Speaker Kavinder Gupta went ahead with the Question Hour. However, the questions and supplementaries raised by the MLAs and replies given by the Ministers were mostly lost in the din created by protesting Opposition MLAs, who repeatedly raised slogans in favour of their demand.
Independent MLA from Langate Engineer Rashid continued his separate protest throughout the Question Hour near the Well of the House saying a 14 year old boy has been lodged in Kot Bhalwal jail and demanded his release. He also resented the Court direction on registration of FIR against National Conference MLC Showkat Ganai saying the Courts have no jurisdiction over the remarks made inside the House.
NC MLA Devender Singh Rana said it was question of sanctity of the House as well as Leader of the House (Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti) as she had made statement in the Assembly announcing compensation for the unrest victims, which has been opposed by the PDP’s Alliance partner, the BJP. He said Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh was also part of the BJP resolution opposing the compensation as he had attended the Working Committee meeting.
After about 45 minutes of protests, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri said the Opposition MLAs should believe in proceedings of the House.
This satisfied the Opposition MLAs as Veeri’s statement meant that the announcement made by the Chief Minister inside the Assembly for payment of compensation to Kashmir unrest victims stands.
The National Conference and Congress MLAs including Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Rigzin Jora then trained their guns towards the BJP MLAs saying the Resolution adopted by the BJP Working Committee has been trashed by the Government on the floor of the House.
“Sharam Karo Sharam Karo, BJP Sharam Karo (feel ashamed the BJP members)”, the NC and Congress members shouted towards the BJP MLAs, who countered, leading to heated exchanges. BJP MLAs Sat Sharma, Ravinder Raina and Gagan Bhagat among others countered the Opposition MLAs.
Rana demanded that Nirmal Singh should resign and charged the BJP Ministers and MLAs with sacrificing their everything for the sake of chair. The Opposition MLAs charged the BJP members with “fooling” the people of Jammu for 60 years.
Speaking to reporters outside the Assembly, Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh said National Conference and Congress members were polarizing the situation by raking up irrelevant issues. He said the Government has also decided that 2008 victims of Amarnath Ji land agitation in Jammu will also be given compensation.
On West Pakistani refugees, Dr Singh said the BJP was committed to their livelihood and other facilities and charged the Opposition with equating them with Burmese and Maynmarese nationals, who were foreigners.
He said West Pakistani refugees were settled in Jammu by late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and they are staying here for the past about seven decades now.
The Deputy Chief Minister said opposing any package to West Pakistani refugees amounted to human rights violations.