Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Shopian Spark sets House on Fire

Mehbooba Snatches Speaker’s Mike; Forced Out; Omar Says Govt Ready For Shopian Debate


NASEER A GANAI

Srinagar, July 27: The 30-day long budget session of the JK Legislative Assembly began today with high drama as Peoples Democratic Party legislators, including its president Mehbooba Mufti, were forced out of the House by Assembly staff on the directions of the Speaker. Prior to this, Mehbooba snatched the microphone of the Speaker and threw it on the floor as her party members stormed the well raising the Shopian rape and murder issue.
The trouble started immediately after an obituary reference was moved to pay tributes to former legislators who had passed away since the last session. However, NC leader and MLA Handwara, Choudhary Muhammad Ramzan, sought the attention of the House towards the destruction caused by a windstorm in Handwara Sunday.
Simultaneously, the BJP state president, Ashok Khajuria, and some of his party colleagues sought explanation from the government for subjecting their bags to security check.
But when PDP members saw Ramzan speaking, they interrupted him. The BJP joined the PDP. However, BJP legislators backed off when PDP started moving towards the well of the House raising slogans “Shopian Kay Qatiloon Ko Pesh Karo (Bring the Shopian murderers to book).”
The continuation of slogans angered Speaker Muhammad Akbar Lone and he repeatedly directed the marshals to push the agitating legislators out of the House.
Meanwhile, the BJP too stepped in and raised slogans demanding
Central University in Jammu and there was complete commotion in the House. The marshals forced the PDP legislators one by one out of the House.
However, as Mehbooba continued to raise slogans in the well, the Speaker directed the marshals, “Take this woman out.” The Speaker repeated the directions many times, referring to Mehbooba Mufti as “this woman.” Angry Mufti rushed towards the Speaker and pulled out his microphone, throwing it on the floor.
After this, Mehbooba was forcibly sent out of the House by two women employees of the Assembly secretariat. The BJP and Panthers Party legislators, who were too shouting slogans, were also pushed out of the Assembly.
When calm was restored in the House with the ouster of the Opposition, CPI(M) State secretary Muhammad Yousuf Taragami spoke on the obituary reference. He described the action of the Opposition uncalled for and regrettable. In a sarcastic tone, Taragami said some members with the intention to grab headlines trampled the dignity of the House. But he urged the Speaker that the ousted members should be allowed to return. The Speaker conceded the request and ordered that members be allowed to come back. But none of them returned.
The Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, in his obituary speech, said the Opposition should have waited for a day. He said it would have been better had the Opposition allowed members to pay homage to former MLAs. The Chief Minister said his party was in Opposition for six years but ‘we have not behaved the way in which the Opposition behaved today.’ He said standing on the benches and snatching the microphones wouldn’t serve any purpose. He said it would have been better to raise these issues in right manner and at the right time.
The Chief Minister said his government was ready for discussion on every issue and ‘we don’t shy away from anything.’
The Speaker, while concluding the day’s proceedings, assured the legislators that he would behave in a non-partisan manner. He however warned the members of severe action in case they failed to behave. “I won’t do anything to safeguard the treasury benches. But I have vast powers and I am within my right to take action against anyone who disturbs the functioning of the House,” he said.

HIGHLIGHTS
• While speaking on the obituary reference in the Legislative Council, MLC Muhammad Rafiq Shah repeatedly said Bhim Singh was under arrest for three days in New Delhi. However, he was reminded that he was supposed to pay homage to dead legislators and Bhim Singh was still alive.

• The Speaker Muhammad Akbar Lone said there was no harm in checking the bags of the legislators for security reasons when the BJP state president Ashok Khajuria raised the issue. When Khajuria described it as an insult and accused government of harassing the legislators, the Speaker said it was being done on the directions of Assembly Secretariat.

 

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