JAMMU, Feb 1: The `House of Elders’ today witnessed the ugly scenes of scuffle between the Members and the Marshalls, throwing down of the benches and chairs, breaking of mikes and sound system; thus stalling the proceedings amidst loud sloganeering by opposition, causing injuries to the two members and forcing the Chairman to adjourn the House sine- die.
The trouble was created in the Legislative Council on the remarks of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in the Lower House on Monday, dubbing those raising voice against Article 370 as ‘ anti-nationals’. These remarks of the Chief Minister, followed by the plea of the Leader of House Naeem Akhtar (Education Minister) to the Chairman Anayat Ali to go ahead with the Question Hour and not to allow the opposition in the House to raise words against the CM in her absence, further flared up the fire in the House.
A ‘free for all’ situation was witnessed in the `House of Elders’ today, as the opposition members pulled up mikes, pulled down four sitting benches of the MLCs, tables and chairs of Legislative Council Secretary and his staff in the well, tore the question and answer papers and threw them before the Secretary and the Chairman. All the 12 NC and Congress members held strong protest in the well of the House and raised loud slogans against the PDP-BJP Coalition Government.
They were shouting slogans, ” Anti-national Sarkar Hai Hai, …….Qatil Sarkar Hai Hai,…….Pellet Sarkar Hai Hai……, RSS Sarkar Hai Hai,……..Nagpur Sarkar Hai Hai…… etc.
The Chairman despite repeated interventions and requests, failed to restore order in the House. During slogans, the PDP and BJP members including Surinder Choudhary, Saifuddin Bhat, Yasir Reshi, Zaffar Iqbal Manhas, Ramesh Arora and Ajatshatru Singh also stood up and raised counter allegations. The verbal spat between the members of the treasury benches and Opposition occurred several times. Surinder Choudhary also dubbed the NC-Congress members as `Qatils’ of 2010 agitation and said that they were those siding with the `Patherwaz’ in Kashmir during recent unrest.
As the House commenced its proceedings in the morning, all the NC and Congress members including Sajjad Kichloo, Jugal Kishore Sharma, Naresh Gupta, Ghulam Nabi Monga, Qaiser Jamshed Lone, Showkat Hussain Ganai, Ali Mohd Dar, Master Noor Hussain, Dr Shehnaz Ganai, Sham Lal Bhagat and Mohd Muzaffar Parray stood up from their seats and raised the point with regard to the `Desh Drohi’ remarks of Chief Minister.
They sought clarification from the Government on the statement of the Chief Minister and especially from the BJP being coalition partner. The Chairman earlier rejected their plea but later he allowed Sajjad Kichloo to raise his point. Kichloo said the Chief Minister raised the issue of Article 370 and also termed those speaking against this Article as anti-national. He said his party has no problem over these remarks.
“But the BJP which is coalition partner should clear its stand over the remarks. It is very sensitive issue”, he maintained.
CLP leader in the House Jugal Kishore Sharma said that BJP people had been raising the bogey of Article 370 for the last nearly 7- years. Their towering leader Shyama Parsad Mukherjee sacrificed his life for this cause. Their top leaders like Atal Behari Vajpayee, LK Advani and others always raised voice against Article 370.
“Now when they have been dubbed as `Desh Drohi’ by none else than the Chief Minister, why these people were silent. They should clarify their stand. Have they sold their inner conscious and the sacrifice of Dr Shayama Parsad Mukherjee to the PDP for the sake of power?”, he asked.
The Education Minister Naeem Akhtar stood up and told to the Chairman that since Chief Minister was not in the House, therefore, raising any issue against her was not justified. He asked the Chairman to proceed with the Question Hour. These remarks of Naeem irked the opposition members. They said the directions should come from the `Chair’ and not from the Minister and Naeem was nobody to issue directions to the Chairman.
They said the Chairman being custodian of the rights of all the members must give space to the opposition members as well. Upon this, the verbal spat between the members from both sides erupted which continued for some time. The Chairman then started the Question Hour amidst noise and chaos, moreover, nothing was clearly audible in the House.
All 12 opposition members then tore their question and reply papers and threw in the well towards Secretary and the Chairman. Then they lifted mikes and sound system and threw down into the Well. They also them pulled down 3-4 tables and moved into the well of the House and started loud slogans against the PDP-BJP Govt raising serious allegations.
As it was total chaos and loud noise, the Chairman asked the marshals to throw them out. As the Marshalls tried to push them, the scuffle started. The members pulled out mikes and pulled down the tables and chairs of the Secretary and his staff. A free for all situation was witnessed for some time. The Chairman then adjourned the house for five minutes at 11.16 am.
Instead of five minutes, the House again resumed its business after 33 minutes at 11.49 am. The Upper House had the important business of passage of Appropriation Bills. The Lower House had already passed the Budget on Tuesday. The Opposition members again stood up and pressed the Chairman to allow them to project their point, seeking reply from the Government on CM’s remarks.
As the Chairman did not bother, they again moved to the well and started protest. They again pulled down the furniture/ benches and removed mikes. Again massive protests started. The Council Secretariat deployed about half a dozen more Marshalls, apparently withdrawn from the Assembly to control the situation. The Marshalls did not allow them to move towards Chairman or the Secretary.
The scuffle again started and NC Member Sajjad Kichloo received injuries on his back as he fell down on the turned benches in the well due to push by the Marshalls. On earlier occasion, Jugal Kishore sustained injury in his eye during scuffle while pulling out a mike.
The Government in hush-hush manner managed the passage of Budget in the Upper House also and rushed through, three more important bills, by controlling the opposition members by using additional force in the form of Marshals, believed to be from the Lower House.
Amidst slogans, protests by opposition members, chaos and clash in the House, the Government managed to get through the Appropriation Bills, moved by Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu with the support of 15 coalition members. The Chairman then adjourned the house sine die, a week ahead of the notified schedule.
Later, the opposition NC and Congress Members sat on protest dharna at the stairs of Central Hall of the Legislature and raised slogans against the Government. They termed this move of the Govt as anti-democratic, unfortunate and highly condemnable. They said that PDP-BJP have committed murder of democracy in the State and has set a bad precedent by cutting down the calender schedule by one week. A very wrong signal has gone in the other States and the country, they added.