Unprecedented pandemonium in Assembly on ‘remarks’

*PDP stages walk-out after massive protests in Well

Sanjeev Pargal

PDP MLAs protesting in the Well of Assembly on Monday.  -Excelsior/Rakesh
PDP MLAs protesting in the Well of Assembly on Monday.

JAMMU, Mar 3: The Legislative Assembly today witnessed unprecedented pandemonium for 35 minutes during Question Hour over alleged remarks against the people of Kashmir by a Union Minister and National Conference leader with all PDP members disrupting the House proceedings while National Conference Ministers including Higher Education Minister Mohammad Akbar Lone and Rural Development Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar having heated exchanges with the Opposition MLAs.
While PDP MLAs including their Legislature Party leader Mehbooba Mufti sought an apology from the Union Minister, whose name was expunged by Speaker Mubarak Gul from the record on the ground that he was not a member of the House and can’t defend himself in the Assembly, Mr Lone charged the PDP leaders with being militants and traitors saying they are not soul representatives of the entire `qaum’ (community). Mr Sagar charged the PDP leadership with enacting drama in the Assembly to gain `political mileage’ and categorically denied that the senior NC leader has passed any remarks against the people of Kashmir.
As soon as the Question Hour began, all PDP members were on their feet while Independent MLA from Langet, Engineer Rashid trooped into middle of the House protesting the remarks of the senior National Conference leader and the Union Minister.
“Respect and sanctity of the Kashmiri people has been compromised with the remarks (of the NC leader). Passing such a serious remark against the people of Kashmir is neither tolerable nor acceptable. The NC leader should tender an unconditional apology for the remarks,’’ the PDP members—Mehbooba Mufti, Abdul Rehman Veeri, Basharat Bukhari, Javed Mustafa Mir, Nizam-ud-Din Bhat, Abdul Haq Khan, Dr Shaffi Wani and others shouted from their seats.
This drew instant reaction from the National Conference benches with Rural Development Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar, Ministers of State Feroz Khan and Nazir Gurezi and NC MLAs including Sheikh Mustafa Kamaal, Peer Afaq, Irfan Shah, Bimla Luthra among others on their feet countering the charges of the PDP members.
However, NC’s Alliance partner, Congress members didn’t react to the clash between NC and PDP. Jammu based Opposition party members including BJP and NPP also watched the two parties exchanging heated arguments silently.
Mr Sagar said: “the PDP charges are totally wrong. The NC leader has not passed any remarks against the people of Kashmir. He has been misquoted by a newspaper. The PDP is resorting to cheap propaganda to gain political mileage’’.
Speaker Mubarak Gul expunged the name of the senior NC leader from the record as also a particular word used by the PDP members in their remarks and slogans. He said the NC leader was not a member of this House and can’t defend himself here. He advised the PDP members not to name him or use unparliamentary language against him.
In a bid to run the Question Hour smoothly, the Speaker made repeated appeals to the agitated PDP members and Engineer Rashid to take up the issue after the Question Hour and he would allow them to speak provided they follow the Rule Books and didn’t name the NC leader or pass unparliamentary remarks against him.
As the PDP members continued shouting first from their seats and then trooping into the Well of the House saying `Sharifon Say Maafi Mango (seek apology from the gentle people)’, Mr Sagar also shouted towards Mehbooba Mufti saying “(the NC leader) is a Kashmiri and will always remain Kashmir. You are the killers of Kashmiris. You know it very well that the NC leader has neither said anything against the people of Kashmir nor would he say anything. You are creating unnecessary propaganda to gain political mileage’’.
As the PDP members continued slogan shouting in the Well of the House like `Kashmiri Qaum Se Maafi Mango (seek apology from the Kashmiri people) and Mehbooba Mufti along with Mr Veeri and Mushtaq Shah protesting from the seats, Higher Education Minister Mohammad Akbar Lone was also on his feet.
“(The NC leader) is the leader of entire `Qaum’ (community). No one has the right to pass remarks against him. They are not the soul leaders of the entire community. If some remarks have been made, they should see why and in what context the exact words have been spoken. These people (the PDP leaders) have sold the ‘Qaum’.
“Yeh Militant Hai. Isko Militant Naam Diya Gaya Tha (he is a militant. He was given the name militant),’’ Mr Lone said pointing towards a PDP member protesting in the Well of the House. He also called the PDP leaders as “traitors of the qaum’’.
Mr Lone, former Speaker of the Assembly went on,: “You (the PDP members) have destroyed Jammu and Kashmir, looted the State with both hands, all kind of scandals—land, sex etc took place during your Government. You gave the people bullets. You diluted the Article 370 and still you are blaming us’’.
Engineer Rashid, who didn’t align with the PDP members and was protesting separately in the middle of the House, was also seen having heated exchanges with the NC members seeking their clarification on the remarks of the NC leader. However, the NC leaders didn’t respond to the charges of Mr Rashid but continued to counter the PDP members.
“We, you, all Kashmiris have been described as …….. This is a serious matter,’’ PDP member Basharat Bukhari shouted in the Well of the House. His party colleague Peer Mansoor Shah urged the Speaker, who was repeatedly asking the PDP members to take their seats as their protest has been recorded, to tell the NC members to apologize.
Mehbooba Mufti, who was protesting from her seat, said: “all Kashmiris have been dubbed as ……….’’.
Minister of State for Animal and Sheep Husbandry Nazir Gurezi also shouted at the NC members said their leader has not passed any statement the PDP members were referring to. NC MLA (Nominated) Bimla Luthra also shouted loudly towards the PDP members.
Speaker Mubarak Gul again advised the PDP members not to go by the news reports and have respect of senior leaders. “Newspapers sometimes do quote the leaders out of context. Don’t go by them. He is a senior Kashmiri leader. Have respect for him.’’ Mr Gul said.
Akbar Lone also shouted loudly “……..Machaye Shor’’ repeatedly, which were countered by the PDP with `Cricket Scam Hai Hai’
Shouting ‘Shame, Shame’ and ‘Puri Qaum Say Maafi Mango’, the PDP leaders staged a walk-out in the House, led by their Legislature Party leader, Mehbooba Mufti after 35 minutes of protest disrupting the Question Hour though Mr Gul went ahead with the Question Hour though very few questions and replies were heard in the media gallery due to din created by the Opposition members.
Even as the PDP members were staging a walk-out, Mr Lone had heated exchanged with them.
Former Minister and NC leader Surjit Singh Slathia charged the PDP with being total failure and creating trouble in the House without any reason. He charged the PDP members with enacting drama in the Assembly.
As Engineer Rashid continued to shout in the House, Mr Slathia left his seat and rushed towards him. “Engineer Rashid is a big nuisance. He should be thrown out of the House,’’ Mr Slathia said. Immediately thereafter, the Speaker ordered that Rashid should be marshaled out of the House. The marshals took Rashid out of the House.
The Speaker charged Rashid with making mockery of the House. “The people have sent him to the Assembly for raising their voice and not for disrupting proceedings of the House,’’ he said.
Akbar Lone said while Rashid is always blamed for trouble, it were the PDP members, who were daily enacting drama here.
In his remarks, Mr Gul said he was proud of Dr Farooq Abdullah as a Kashmir and people of entire State. “He has made a lot of sacrifices. His family has made a lot of sacrifices. The PDP members are only playing to the galleries to take political mileage,’’ he added.
Speaking to reporters outside the Assembly after staging a walk-out, Mehbooba Mufti said Dr Farooq Abdullah had during 2010 unrest in Kashmir called for shooting the people and described the protesters as drug addicts. “Now, he has called the people of Kashmir as `Mahachor’. He has been staying in New Delhi while people in J&K are facing worst every power cuts,’’ she said.
“People had given votes to the NC hoping the party would bring relief for them on the electricity front. Instead of giving power to the people of Kashmir, Farooq has given them the tag of `Mahachor’. He should apologise as he has put the credibility of 1.20 crores people at the stake,’’ Ms Mufti said.
Ms Mufti said this is not the first that the NC leadership has defamed the people, who have been voting them to power, but they have always been on the forefront in doing their character assassination both in and outside the State.
She said: “they call people, who raise voice against them, as anti-nationals and they have demonised our youth as drug addicts, LeT agents and criminals.” She said to remain in the power the NC has been exploiting people on hallow promises from last more than 60 years now.
“Be it in 1975 or 1996, the NC has always betrayed people and compromised their interests and self-respect for the sake of power,” Mehbooba said adding they have been treating people as their slaves and it is their deliberate strategy to defame the image of Kashmiris to remain relevant in certain quarters in New Delhi.
Mehbooba said instead of decreasing the existing power deficit in the State, the NC leadership has sold the most feasible power projects to NHPC only for the chair. She said ‘Meter Todo; Heater Lagao’ (break meters, use heaters) slogan, by NC during 2008, was an assault on the system, which PDP had reformed during its brief stint in the Government.
She said they took off this promise and instead gave consumers a shock by raising the electricity tariff five fold in the last five years. “Instead of their promised honey & milk, what they gave the people of Kashmir pellet guns, chilli grenades, PSAs, arrests, disabilities and police cases,” said Mehbooba and added the NC promoted darkness with load shedding touching new lowest level of power supply.
“They handed over the administration to middle man, agents and bringing development process to a halt. She said while the ministers and ruling party politicians became richer, the State became poorer and people, from whom NC took votes on the promise of good governance, where subjected to unending curfews, teargassing, lathicharge, if they ever raised their voices against the Government atrocities’’.
Mehbooba said there are serious corruption charges pending against Dr Farooq himself, and if there are any thieves in the State it is the NC leadership, who have been thriving at the cost of people of Jammu & Kashmir. She said there are “proved corruption charges’’ against them and they can’t generalize this accusation with every citizen of the State.
“Dr Farooq is involved in siphoning off millions of rupees meant for the promotion of cricket in the State and even now police have proved his involvement in the case,” she said adding the mysterious death of Haji Yousuf at Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah’s residence expose the muck of corruption in the Abdullah family.
Referring to the BOPEE scam, the PDP president said the corrupt Mushtaq Peer would not had been doing the frauds without the patronage of his political bosses, who have been giving him extension after extension, besides serious corruption charges pending against him. She said Omar Abdullah was unable to take any action against his battery of Ministers who have been found involved in serious malpractices be it drug scam, PHE scam, land grab scam, recruitment frauds etc. , as he fears reprisal from them given his involvement in host of other serious frauds.
She said besides having huge potential in new and renewable energy in J&K, if the State has not been able to perform well in tapping the potential, it is all because of the “inefficiency’’ of Dr Farooq, as he has not been able to perform well.
She said it is “shameful on part of the NC patriarch’’ to defame the entire population without looking at his performance, as J&K features nowhere in the programme with zero MW capacity project installed anywhere in the State. She said the abysmal performance of Dr Abdullah should not come any shocker to the people of the State, as the wounds inflicted by him as the Chief Minister of J&K, for many occasions in the past, are still fresh and people can’t forget his cruelty.
She said if it is in a public view that Dr Abdullah has made such a disgusting comment, what will would be the NC top leadership actually feeling about the people, whom they claim representing and what would they be speaking in private with the people, who see Kashmiris through a stereotype.
Talking to media, Engineer Rashid said he was abused by Surjit Singh Slathia and he should apologize.
“They (the NC leaders) should fight with us politically and not by abusing us. We respect their mothers and sisters. Similarly, they should respect our mother and sisters instead of abusing them,’’ Rashid said.
Later in the House, Deputy Speaker Sartaj Madni, who was in the Chair, told Mr Rashid that if any member sitting with Mr Slathia or the Marshals in the House, endorsed the charge of Rashid that Slathia has hurled any abuse, he would proceed accordingly.
While Mr Rashid insisted on his charge, NPP MLAs—Balwant Singh Mankotia and Yashpal Kundal, sitting behind Mr Slathia said they have not heard Mr Slathia hurling any abuses.
“Not at all. I have not hurled any abuses. You can check the Assembly record,’’ Mr Slathia told the Deputy Speaker.
Mr Rashid charged Mr Slathia with hurling abuses on him when he was being marshaled out.
PDP MLA Nizam-ud-Din Bhat said Mr Rashid has been insisting on his charged while Mr Slathia has been denying.
“If some members of the House have listened and were silent, leave the matter to the God,’’ Mr Bhat said settling the issue.