JAMMU, Jan 27: Oppo-sition National Conference Members today staged walk out from the Upper House of J&K Legislature, in protest against the passage of Resolution to declare holiday on September 23, the birthday of Maharaja Hari Singh and demanded its withdrawal, claiming that it was passed in violation of rules.
As the Chairman of the Legislative Council, Haji Anayat Ali entered the House and declared the start of business with ‘Question Hour’, interestingly, it was found that quorum was not even up to its minimum number. The Council’s proceedings were delayed by five minutes just for want of quorum. Two Ministers went outside to bring the members inside to start the proceedings.
NC member Dr Bashir Ahmed Veeri along with other party members stood up and protested against the passage of the resolution, saying it was passed in undemocratic, unconstitutional way and also in violation of the rules and business procedures of the House. He claimed that NC was never in support of such resolution as right from 1931 onwards the voices were rising against the then Maharaja’s rule and there were several incidents of violation of human rights in Kashmir.
He pointed out that Legislative Council passed a Resolution of January 24, 2017 to declare Maharaja Hari Singh’s birthday on September 23 as a State holiday, when entire opposition was not present in the House. The NC and Congress had boycotted the House proceedings on that day. In the meantime, the ruling members came out, took some of their members to the House to complete the quorum and the resolution was passed.
“It was passed in hush -hush manner and in undemocratic way, in violation of the rules and business procedures of the House,” Dr Veeri said.
The NC legislator said that the Resolution should be withdrawn.
As the Chairman did not pay much attention towards their plea and asked them to take their seats since the Resolution stood passed in the House after voting, the members came out of their seats and moved closer to the ‘Well’ in front of the Chairman’s seat and started protest. They disrupted the business for about 12 minutes and then staged walk out.
Interestingly, when the Chairman arrived in the House at 11 am, there were just 6 members in the House besides five Ministers. But even Leader of the House Naeem Akhtar was also not present. Since the quorum was not up to its minimum number, the Chairman asked to adjourn the House for five minutes.
But Forest Mnister Ch Lal Singh and R&B Minister A R Veeri stood up and said that some opposition members have arrived and they are coming inside, the House should not be adjourned. The Chairman then waited for some time and the others kept waiting till the quorum reached to its minimum. At 11.06 am the business started with quorum of 12 members including Naeem Akhtar.
Meanwhile, NC members while addressing media-persons outside the House after walk-out said that 22 people were killed in Central jail by the Maharaja’s forces on July 13, 1931.
“We celebrate it as Martyr’s day. How can you declare a holiday in the name of those, who are instrumental in massacre? We are opposed to it. We walked-out from the House after protests. Our demand is that the Resolution should be withdrawn as it has no locus standi,” Veeri said.
After about 55 years, the death of Jammu and Kashmir’s last Maharaja, Hari Singh, the State Legislative Council passed a Resolution to declare his birthday, September 23, as a State holiday after his two grandsons moved the proposal, he added.
“We are not against Maharaja but appreciate some of the reforms he brought in the State. The country launched campaign against autocratic rule under Gandhi ji and in J&K under Sheikh Mohd Abdullah. We have now adopted the democratic system. In Kashmir majority of the people were not happy with Maharaja and therefore, NC would not support this resolution,” he said.
BJP member Ajatshatru moved the proposal and it was seconded by PDP MLC Vikramaditya and another. Both are grandsons of Hari Singh and sons of Congress leader Karan Singh. Ajatshatru said the contribution of Maharaja Hari Singh needs to be acknowledged and it would be a tribute to him if the State declares official holiday on his birthday. Hari Singh was born on Sept 23, 1895 and died on April 26, 1961 at the age of 65. He had signed the Instrument of Accession of J&K to India in 1947 after Pakistani army and raiders attacked the State.
Education Minister and Leader of the House, Naeem Akhtar spoke about the Maharaja but asked Ajatshatru to withdraw the Resolution, assuring him that his proposal could be considered.
But Ajatshatru pressed for the Resolution, following which it was passed by voice vote even though PDP member Khursheed Alam opposed it.