Elders target PDP, BJP on Art 370

NC-Cong members during clash with Marshalls in Upper House on Wednesday. -Excelsior/Rakesh
NC-Cong members during clash with Marshalls in Upper House on Wednesday. -Excelsior/Rakesh

Gopal Sharma
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.


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