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PDP legislator slaps Marshal
Walkouts, marshalling out amidst commotion in LA
PDP, CPI (M), PDF, independent protest against SHO’s transfer | BJP, JKNPP, JSM plead refugees’ cause
JAMMU, Feb 19: It was a day of walkouts and the members being marshaled out today though on different issues yet amid usual scenes of pandemonium, verbal duels and scuffle with the marshals, one of whom was even slapped by one of agitating PDP legislators during an act of eviction in the Legislative Assembly.

The issues chosen by the opposition legislators to agitate in the House, which witnessed riotous scenes right from the word ‘Go’, ranged from transfer of Investigation Officer (IO) probing into molestation charges against the former Health minister Shabir Ahmad Khan, West Pakistan and PoK refugees, Wadoora agriculture college and non-availability of ration among Jagti migrants.

During post-Question Hour proceedings, PDP MLA Syed Bashir slapped a marshal when he was being forcibly marshaled out of the House along with other PDP members on the direction of the Speaker after the legislators kept on protesting in the well against non-availability of ration among Jagti migrants.

As soon as the House assembled for day’s proceedings, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) legislators were up on feet agitating over the transfer of SHO Shaheedgunj Ghulam Mohiuddin, who is the Investigation Officer in molestation case against the former Health minister. MLA Langate Abdul Rashid Engineer too joined them in protest.

They were accusing the government of scuttling the investigation in the case by effecting transfer of the Investigation Officer.

Soon, the BJP, JKNPP and JSM legislators too rose on the other side protesting against, what they said, “government’s contemptible indifferent attitude towards refugees.”

While the opposition members were creating ruckus, the Minister for Urban Development Nawang Rigzin Jora stood up to express concern over use of, what he said, “unparliamentary language” during the proceedings of the House in the second sitting on Tuesday. His reference was to expression used for former Health Minister by an independent member last evening during discussion on demands for grants. He requested the Speaker Legislative Assembly Mubarak Gul to expunge those expressions.

From PDP side, the party’s chief whip Abdul Gaffar Sofi raised the issue in the din. “Molestation attempt was made with a lady doctor and the accused former minister was given time to procure bail by allowing him to go into hiding. Initial the FIR was not being registered against him and now the Investigation Officer has been transferred. Why it was done, we want an answer from the government,” he asked.

Upon this, the Speaker Mubarak Gul stated that the matter in this connection was sub-judice so it could not be discussed in the House. “As far as transfer of the officer is concerned, it’s a routine affair. We’ve full faith in the judiciary. Even otherwise, the government had taken an immediate action against him and took his resignation,” Gul added.

Irked over the Speaker’s statement, other PDP MLAs including Javed Mustafa Mir, Dr Shafi Ahmed Wani, amid noisy scenes, made an abortive bid to storm the well. However, they were prevented by the marshals and the Watch and Ward Staff.

Gul reiterated, “The matter is sub-judice so nothing can be done on this account.”

At this point of time, CPI(M) MLA M Y Tarigami, PDF MLA Hakeem Mohammed Yaseen too rose to join the protesting PDP members. After agitating for a while, all PDP members, Tarigami and Hakeem Yaseen staged a walk out at 10.08 AM.

On the other side, among the protesting lot of Jammu based opposition legislators, JSM MLA Ashwani Kumar Sharma raised the issue of West Pakistan and PoK refugees. “We want settlement of West-Pak and PoK refugees. Both the central and state governments have cheated them,” he said.

BJP, Panthers too supported his contention shouting and raising slogans. Speaker Mubarak Gul asked them to raise issue after the Question Hour.

Upon this, agitating members amid slogans “Refugees Ko Dhokha Dena Band Karo”, “Human Rights Ki Violation Band Karo” “Refugees Ka Masla Hal Karo” walked out of the House at 10.12 AM.

At this point of time, Engineer yet again tried to troop into the well yet was prevented by marshals. “Shabir Khan Aiwaan Mein Kaise Aaya….Chhotay Bachchon Par PSA Lagaatay Ho….(How Shabir Khan entered the House………The government is invoking PSA against the minors),” he kept on shouting.

As he did not listen to the Speaker’s repeated warning to go back to his seat, the latter directed the marshals to evict him. At 10.13 AM, Engineer was marshalled out.

This was the first eviction of the day which witnessed two more violent evictions after the Question Hour.

After Engineer was evicted, the Minister for Higher Education Mohammed Akbar Lone requested the Speaker to bring him in. After the order was restored in the House and the Question Hour proceeded. While PDP MLA Zulfikar Chowdhary’s question, listed at number 2, was in progress, the Minister of State for Home Sajjad Ahmed Kichloo stood up with a clarification, “SHO transfer was a routine affair. Usko Wahan Teen Saal Ho Gaye Thay..(He had been there for three years).”

The Question Hour at its fag end witnessed yet another walkout by PDP, their second walkout during Question Hour and the third walkout of the day. It occurred during the question of NC MLA Aijaz Jan regarding horticulture sector.

PDP MLA Abdul Rehman Veeri raised a supplementary. However, the Minister for Horticulture Raman Bhalla could not satisfy him with his answer. As Veeri agitated, his party colleagues too joined him stating that the government was not meting out justice to crucial horticulture sector and was destroying it. They accused Bhalla of suppressing information sought.

Raising slogans “Zamindar Dushman Sarkar Hai-HaI, Logon Ki Dushman Sarkar Hai Hai” PDP members staged a walkout at 10.53 AM.

The Question Hour ended with a brief verbal duel between the Minister for Urban Development Nawang Rigzin Jora and JKNPP MLA Harsh Dev Singh who was raising a supplementary to the main question of his party colleague Yashpal Kundal regarding fee collected by displaying of hoardings of Chief Minister and other ministers in Jammu and Srinagar municipal limits.

As the Question Hour ended, NC MLA Mohammed Ashraf Ganai vociferously raised the issue of shifting of faculties from Wadoora agriculture college to SKUAST, Kashmir. Upon this issue, he got support from the Minister for Law Mir Saifullah as well. “This is an issue of north Kashmir. Earlier also some faculties were shifted and yesterday horticulture faculty too was shifted. Even the ministers from north Kashmir are concerned about it,” he said and urged the Minister for Agriculture to reconsider this decision. MLA Langate joined the cause with NC MLA on this issue. He entered the well yet again and there he had a brief scuffle with the Agriculture Minister G H Mir.

Mir then assured the House that the Horticulture faculty would not be shifted from Agriculture College Wadoora, Sopore to SKUAST, Kashmir. He said he had already spoken to the authorities of SKUAST Srinagar to maintain the status-quo in the matter in view of the demand of the students of the college and people of the North Kashmir.

This issue was followed by another walkout by BJP, JKNPP and JSM legislators - their second walkout and overall fourth walkout of the day. They staged walkout on the issue of ‘biased reporting’ of the proceedings of the House by the J&K Information department ignoring rather resorting to total blackout of opposition members’ view point. The issue was raised by JKNPP MLA Harsh Dev Singh.

Gul directed the concerned department to look into the matter. However, BJP, JKNPP, JSM walked out of the House at 11.13 AM amid noisy scenes.

Amid this ruckus, Engineer again trooped into the well agitating on the issue pertaining to former health minister.

As he kept on creating ruckus, the Speaker directed the marshals to evict him out of the House, second time in the day, at 11.16 AM.

In the meanwhile, PDP MLA Syed Bashir, who too was up on feet agitating on the issue of Jagti migrants, trooped into the well as he was not allowed to speak by the Speaker. Irked over his action to enter the well to protest despite his warning, the Speaker ordered to marshal him out at 11.17 AM. This direction angered his party colleagues who too marched towards the front desk to protect him.

In the meanwhile as Bashir was trying to resist his eviction, the marshals and Watch Ward staff attempted to evict him forcibly. But by then other PDP MLAs too had joined Bashir, resisting marshals amid noisy scenes.

As the pandemonium prevailed, the Speaker asked the Watch and Ward Staff to marshal other PDP members engaged in jostling as well. In this melee, suddenly, PDP MLA Syed Bashir caught hold of the collar of a marshal and slapped him thrice. This fracas between PDP legislators and the security staff of Assembly continued at least for two minutes.

Yet the marshals finally evicted all the agitating PDP members i.e., Peerzada Mansoor, Abdul Gaffar Sofi, Zulfikar, Dr Shafi Wani besides Syed Bashir at 11.19 AM. In protest against the marshalling of their party MLAs, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and her senior party colleague A R Veeri staged a walkout at 11.19 AM, PDP’s individual third walkout and on the whole, fifth walkout of the day.

Minister of State Nazir Gurezi resented act of Syed Bashir to hit one of marshals. However CPI (M) MLA M Y Tarigami pleaded the cause of PDP legislators and requested the Speaker to bring them inside. Minister for Law Mir Saifullah and Minister for Higher Education Mohammed Akbar Lone too followed the suit.

They, though justified Speaker’s action, yet requested him to call them back.

Gul justified his action stating that he had been very considerate throughout the proceedings yet members’ unruly behaviour forced him to take a harsh decision. “I too feel bad but I’m compelled to do so,” Gul said. At 11.25 AM, the Speaker directed the marshals to bring them back one by one.

Later, speaking to reporters outside the House, Mehbooba said that it was ridiculous on the part of the government to transfer the Investigation Officer at this point of investigation against the former Minister.

“It is eroding the faith of people in these institutions by these types of acts. They tried to scuttle the investigation,” she said.

“Now the height of it is that a sacked Minister charged with molestation of a female doctor is coming regularly to the House. You are changing the IO of the case to save him. They have disgraced the House. They have turned the Assembly into a Hall of shame,” she added.

CPI(M) MLA MY Tarigami demanded a credible enquiry and said that there should be no manipulation into the investigation against the former Minister charged with the molestation of a female doctor.

Independent MLA Engineer Rashid demanded a ban on entry of the tainted minister and said that the government should not scuttle investigation by changing the IO of the case.

Syed Bashir, talking to media, said, “I was raising the issue of Kashmiri Pandit migrants from Pulwama putting up at Jagti, who have not received ration this month till now. I wanted to raise this issue in the assembly, but the Speaker did not allow me.”

He said, the role of the legislators was not to enjoy free lunches using coupons but raise public centric issues and he too was trying to do the same but was prevented to do so.

On the question of slapping a marshal, he denied that he hit any marshal yet admitted that during the scuffle such things could happen. But in the same breath he said that he was not strong enough to slap anyone. “I am too weak to hit anyone,” he added while admitting that in the melee, there could be exchange of blows. He said that he felt humiliated when he was tackled harshly by the marshals.

Speaker Mubarak Gul, responding to media queries about the action to be taken against the MLA, said that the law would take its own course. In the same breath, he added, “This time I spared him, next time I would take a strict action.”

News Updated at : Thursday, February 20, 2014
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